‘Sorry, didn’t know I had $187k in my carry-on’
A SHOPFITTER says he did not know $187,000 cash was inside a padlocked bag when police swooped at the Gold Coast Airport.
Gary Keith Tite, 33, said he had the bag for only about half an hour when he was nabbed about 6.20pm on January 7 this year.
He had arrived on the Gold Coast from Sydney to pick up the cash and was supposed to get on a flight to Melbourne with the luggage.
"When police asked him if there was anything of interest to them, he replied, 'I will have to wait to find out'," defence lawyer Rijald Hadzalic, of Alibi Criminal Defence, told the Southport District Court yesterday.
Tite pleaded guilty to one count of dealing with money or property worth $100,000 or more reasonably expected to be proceeds of crime.
Commonwealth prosecutor Sam Hill said Tite was stopped going through the main screening point at the Gold Coast Airport. He had a NSW driver's licence in his name and a boarding pass for a Melbourne flight in the fake name Jack Byrne.
Mr Hill said Tite had travelled from Sydney under his own name.
Mr Hill said the bag was padlocked and Tite did not have a key.
Tite told police he did not know what was in the bag.
"A search of the carry-on luggage found a large quantity of cash which was vacuum sealed," Mr Hill said.
The total cash found was $187,980.
Mr Hill said it is not known where the money came from, who approached him to carry the bag or what the cash was going to be used for.
Judge Catherine Muir said there was no evidence about the intent or use of the money but it was "reasonable to suspect the money was from proceeds of crime".
She sentenced him to 12 months in prison to be released after he served four months.
Upon release Tite will be placed on a $500 good behaviour bond for two years.
Tite's lawyer Mr Hadzalic said the shopfitter's business was not going well at the time and he was going through a relationship break-up.
Mr Hadzalic said the opportunity came up and he took it because he wanted to provide for his kids and his former partner.