Rockhampton Magistrates Court.
Rockhampton Magistrates Court. Chris Ison ROK270716ccourt2

Officer tells court about finding $45k hidden in car boot

A YOUNG man has pleaded not guilty after police found $45,100 in cash hidden in the boot of his partner's car.

Beau Anthony Graham, 24, faced a summary hearing in Rockhampton Magistrates Court today charged with one count of possession of property suspected of being tainted.

Police prosecutor Clancy Fox said the defendant was intercepted by police about 7.30pm on October 2, 2018.

"Upon questioning and a search of the vehicle, police found $45,100 in an area in the boot of the vehicle,” Mr Fox said.

"The defendant indicated he did not know about the money or where the money came from.”

Mr Fox said the amount of money and the way it was concealed would be the circumstantial evidence to prove the property was tainted.

Lawyer for the defence, solicitor Doug Winning, said the defendant was driving a vehicle that was not registered in his name but in his partner's name.

"He was intercepted by police, a search was conducted of the vehicle and in a compartment near the rear wheel well the sum of $45,100 was found,” Mr Winning said.

"The defendant, when questioned by police, said immediately he knew nothing of the money and had never seen that much money before.

"The crucial issue in this trial is whether the $45,100 found in the boot is tainted money.”

Mr Winning said the money had been claimed by Mr Graham's partner, who provided police with a statement to identify its lawful source.

"The prosecution are essentially saying, 'We don't believe that, we say he is in possession of the money, we say it is tainted money and we say he should be called upon to give an account as to where he lawfully acquired the money',” he said.

"He was driving his girlfriend's car. He didn't know the money was there and when challenged about the money he said words to the effect of I've never seen that much money before. He indicated he was not aware of the presence of the money.”

Mr Winning said whether the property was tainted was not the only issue, there was also the issue of possession.

The first witness was called to the stand, one of the "plain-clothes constables” with Rockhampton Criminal Investigation who pulled over Mr Graham's vehicle.

On cross-examination of the witness, Mr Fox asked the officer whether he took part in the vehicle search.

"I observed the defendant staring quite sturdily at the vehicle while the driver's area was being searched, and also the boot of the vehicle,” the witness said.

"I then searched the vehicle myself. I observed many panels to be loose in the vehicle. At the rear of the wheel arch there was a plastic panel that protrudes into the boot on a bit of a curve.

"It appeared the plastic guard had been damaged.”

Mr Fox asked the witness what happened next.

"Without much effort I was able to lift up the right-hand guard and noticed a cavity behind that guard (the) size of a small soccer ball. I was able to fit my hand in and couldn't feel anything in that one.

"I moved on to the left-hand-side area, which was similar to the right-hand-side guard I had just searched, it also appeared to be damaged,” the witness said.

"It was easy to lift the guard up and put my hand in there. I felt a soft material but when squeezed felt quite firm.

"I pulled the item out and noticed a black sock with a hard rectangular item inside.

"I removed the item from the sock and it was a sum of Australian currency.”

Mr Fox asked the witness what he did after finding the sock containing money.

"I suspected there may still be items within that cavity,” the witness said.

"So I have put my hand back in there and found a hard item.

"I removed that hard item and observed a bundle of cash in some rubber bands.”

On cross-examination of the witness, Mr Winning asked what the original purpose was of pulling the vehicle over.

"It was for a licence and registration check,” the witness confirmed.

"Was there any other reason for pulling the vehicle over?” Mr Winning asked.

"No,” the witness said.

Mr Winning then sought confirmation from the witness that registration checks proved it was not his vehicle.

"Potentially yes,” the witness said.

"Did the other officer communicate why the vehicle was searched?” Mr Winning asked.

"No,” the witness said.

"Were any drugs, weapons or stolen property found in the vehicle?” Mr Winning asked.

"No,” the witness said.

Mr Winning said the witness had given lengthy evidence of loose panelling in the vehicle.

"That was important when you conducted a search of the vehicle?” Mr Winning asked.

"Yes,” the witness said.

"So much that you left that vehicle on the side of the road and did not photograph that loose panelling?” Mr Winning asked.

"Yes,” the witness said.

"This loose panelling was evidence in your mind?” Mr Winning asked.

"It creates suspicion,” the witness said.

"You had a forensic officer photograph all the cash but you didn't see any value in getting these loose panels photographed so we could look at it and test the evidence?” Mr Winning asked.

"Yes,” the witness said.

"Was that sock sent to forensics for DNA?” Mr Winning asked.

"No,” the witness said.

Mr Winning then asked whether the witness was aware of a statement that detailed the partner had claimed the money in the boot was theirs.

"Yes,” the witness said.

"Did you do any investigations into the substance of that statement?” Mr Winning asked.

"No,” the witness said.

"You didn't set about to confirm or refute the statement's truthfulness?” Mr Winning asked.

"I believe she was given the opportunity to take part in an interview and provide an official police statement and declined,” the witness said.

The hearing was adjourned with judgment on July 8.



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