Drug case: Kiwi faces life

By Xavier La Canna

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The pregnant boss of a Christian charity who allegedly smuggled 8.5kg of drugs into Australia has been denied bail in Darwin.

Bernadine Prince, 41, appeared before magistrate John Neill yesterday on three charges related to importing, possessing and supplying drugs.

The mother of three and chief executive of the Oasis of Grace Christian mission faces life in prison if found guilty.

Prosecutor Raphael De Vietri alleged that on May 24 two suitcases owned by Prince were found containing seven backpacks that had methamphetamine and heroin concealed in their lining.

Prince, a New Zealand citizen, was allegedly found with two passports in different names and six credit cards in several names.

Mr De Vietri said Prince had claimed the suitcases were given to her on a trip to Kenya, where her mission does charity work, by a stranger known only as "Mummy Rose".

Defence counsel Michael Burrows said importing drugs did not fit with Prince's background.

"How does a person go from being CEO of an international Christian mission to being an international drug trafficker?" Mr Burrows asked.

He said Prince's bags had gone missing in Singapore for 24 hours and no one had explained what happened to them then.

It also did not fit that a person carrying drugs into Australia would travel via Singapore, where the death penalty existed for such crimes, Mr Burrows said. One of Prince's two passports was invalid and related to her changed name after she remarried, he added.

Mr Burrows said the credit cards were in different names because one belonged to the defendant's husband, one was her mother's and one included her maiden name.

In rejecting the bail application, Mr Neill said he had doubts over claims Prince would carry bags from an unknown stranger into Australia.

"I regard that, without further explanation, as quite extraordinary," Mr Neill said.

Prince will reappear in court on August 21.


- NZ Herald

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