After six weeks of evidence a jury has is now considering its verdicts in the case of two people charged over importing the largest quantity of methamphetamine ever to arrive in New Zealand, which landed on Ninety Mile Beach.
Justice Christine Gordon delivered her three-and-a-half hour summary to the jury in the High Court at Whangārei yesterday before the jury retired.
Salaima Fakaosilea, 30, and Stevie Norua Cullen, 36, are on trial charged with importing methamphetamine and participating in an organised criminal group.
The charges relate to New Zealand's biggest methamphetamine bust. Police recovered 494kg of methamphetamine on June 19, 2016, some of it buried in dunes on Ninety Mile Beach, but the majority, 448kg, from a campervan at Totara North.
A further 52kg of meth was located buried in another location in the sand dunes on Ninety Mile Beach.
The haul had an estimated street value of almost half a billion dollars.
Six people have already pleaded guilty in relation to the operation.
During the trial the jury heard from many witnesses including three who were considered experts in their fields of fingerprinting, electronic devices forensics and an analysts from Environmental Science and Research who confirmed the drug was methamphetamine.
Three witnesses also gave evidence via closed circuit television.
Justice Gordon said special care would be required given the circumstances of the trial as it was a huge quantity the Crown alleged had been imported.
"Some of you may have strong views about methamphetamine. It is most important that you put them to one side and don't involve them in deliberations. It's easier said than done but there is no room for these feeling in this trial."
She said no inference could be taken from the fact that Cullen and Fakaosilea did not speak to the police or that Fakaosilea did not give evidence herself during the trial.
"That is her absolute right," Justice Gordon said.
Cullen did take the stand and told the court he thought he was on a trip to scatter his friend's ashes at sea and that he knew nothing of a drug importation and was not involved in an organised criminal group.
The crown said Cullen had full knowledge of what was happening and was responsible for logistical tasks relating to the importation of the drugs. Those tasks included hiring hotel rooms and being present and participating in meeting when plans were discussed and was involved in a failed launch on June 9, 2016.
Evidence was produced that Cullen researched places to launch a boat, liaised with Far North locals and was present when the boat with methamphetamine on board landed on the beach.
Fakaosilea's defence was she was not in Northland when the drugs came ashore and she had no knowledge of the drugs or their importation.
The crown said Fakaosilea had an embedded role in the criminal group and had rolled up her sleeves and got involved by organising hire vehicles, the transportation of two Asian men to the Far North and satellite phones.