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A Bungendore business owner has been jailed for more than a decade after trying to import an excavator stuffed with high purity cocaine and then giving “deliberately dishonest” evidence about it. Adam Phillip Hunter, 35, looked straight ahead as he was sentenced by NSW District Court on Friday to 12 years and nine months in prison. Judge Andrew Colefax, who called the landscaper a key player in the operation, imposed an eight-year and three-month non-parole period. Hunter, a father of four, was well regarded in the community when he used his business, Bungendore Landscape Supplies, to advertise a legitimate illegal import. He did so because he was in such a financial hole at the material time, in 2019, that he was “unable to cover even basic living expenses.” Hunter’s money troubles were grabbed by a mysterious regular customer, known only as the “man at the cafe” because the couple met regularly for hot drinks. Judge Colefax said the “coffee man” was involved in a criminal syndicate that wanted to import a significant amount of cocaine from South Africa which had been concealed in the hydraulic arm of a refurbished excavator. This cape and dagger character recruited Hunter, who was told to raise around $ 50,000 and send it to a South African company in exchange for this machine. Hunter was to receive the 20-ton excavator at his landscaping yard and rent it to union members, whom he communicated with using an encrypted phone given to him by the “man at the cafe.” Judge Colefax said Hunter clearly trusted these unknown criminals to hold their end of the bargain because the idea was that they would remove what was hidden inside, repair the damage done with the shovel during the shovel. recovery, then would return the excavator. Hunter was then supposed to send an unidentified person a bill for $ 50,000, meaning he would effectively receive the shovel for free. But the plan fell apart when the used shovel arrived in an “unusable” condition, leading the union to offer Hunter an additional $ 50,000 to cut the drugs himself and leave them for collection. He and a friend, who cannot be named, were using an angle grinder to extract what they believed to be cocaine when the police, who were watching them, pounced on. Authorities had previously intercepted the excavator at the Australian border and secretly replaced the 384 packets of cocaine it contained with an inert substance. Hunter, who later pleaded guilty to attempting to import a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug, has been in custody since his arrest in July 2019. During extended sentencing proceedings, he has claimed he did not know what was in the machine. until his arrival in Australia, when he suspected it contained illegal drugs. He said he was not “remotely interested” because he just wanted a free excavator, but Judge Colefax said on Friday that was “inherently implausible”. MORE ON THIS CASE: The judge discovered that Hunter knew when he “bought” the digger that he was in possession of a “significant” amount of illegal drugs, even though he was not aware of the exact amount. Judge Colefax also rejected the proposition that Hunter had initially promised only an “invisible sight” excavator in return for his “high-risk criminal conduct”, saying he must be under the impression that the union had him. would reward more. The judge admitted that Hunter was not the “mastermind” behind the plot, but found that he was “closely involved in the entire import process” and knew more than he suggested. Justice Colefax described aspects of Hunter’s account in court as variously implausible, to be approached with caution and deliberately dishonest. In light of this, he felt that Hunter’s expressions of remorse, which had seemed “powerful” at first glance, were not really genuine. MORE COURT AND CRIME NEWS: On the contrary, the judge concluded that Hunter was only sorry for the position in which he now found himself behind bars in the infamous Goulburn Prison. With the time already served, Hunter will become eligible for parole in October 2027. Police previously estimated the value of the cocaine concealed in the excavator at $ 144 million, but Judge Colefax said on Friday that its exact value was $ 144 million. was unclear. He said the 384 kg of plastic-wrapped blocks found in the machine contained very pure cocaine, with a minimum total pure weight of 276.1 kg. Our reporters work hard to provide local and up-to-date news to the community. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:



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