A grandmother caught at Auckland Airport carrying 3.179kg of cocaine hidden inside garden gnomes was tricked by a Nigerian drug-smuggling ring while trying to save her daughter, a court has heard.
Linda Martin fainted in the dock during the summing-up of her case in the High Court at Auckland yesterday.
The 52-year-old South African was caught at Auckland Airport on March 8, 2004, with the cocaine inside the gnomes, which were in a suitcase.
Crown prosecutor Bruce Northwood said the Crown did not deny it was a sad story but the woman must have known what she had got herself into.
Justice John Priestley has heard that the woman claims her family were being threatened by a Nigerian drug lord called Peter, who wanted her daughter Lindy to work for him.
She made a complaint to South African police, scared something would happen to her family.
Her daughter was stopped in London in early 2004 "body packed" - carrying drugs.
It was then that Martin embarked on a journey to find the man she believed was responsible for her daughter's situation.
Mr Northwood said she was dealing with drug-runners in trying to find out what happened to her daughter.
Martin said in statements that she wanted to find Peter and the Nigerians had told her that if she stuck with them they would help her find him.
"I just want to look him in the face and ask him if it was his child how he would have felt," she said.
Mr Northwood said the Nigerians might have been playing on her situation to get what they wanted but she must have known what was in her suitcase when she flew from South America to New Zealand bound for Brisbane.
Mr Northwood said she was given false passports, stayed at a hotel where she saw women swallowing things and saying they were "testing their tummies". Her suitcase was changed by Nigerians and it became much heavier.
The woman said the only thing the Nigerians had told her was there was something in the suitcase and she was expected to find it when she got to New Zealand. It was part of her "training".
"There is a clear probability that she knew this was a drug-running outfit and what she was getting into," Mr Northwood said.
The Crown did not dispute her daughter had been caught in London.
"The accused is no fool. She knew the world she was stepping into for whatever reason."
Defence counsel Barry Hart said Martin was not a sophisticated woman and it had been suggested she was running the drugs for a "paltry" US$450.
"If you know what the risks are and you know what the profits are, you're not going to do it for a few hundred dollars, a bit of something on the way and some free flights."
He said Martin never knew what was in the suitcase, she had never been on an aeroplane before and she had no previous convictions.
"At her age would she be prepared to take this risk, for what purpose?"
The court heard that when she was stopped in New Zealand Martin was used by police to try to bring down the drug ring.
She was bugged and a series of phone conversations were taped by police, resulting in one man's arrest.
Justice Priestley will sum up today.