Fugitive’s mum accused of lying while testifying in court
UPDATE 5.45PM: A PROSECUTOR has accused Elizabeth Anne Turner of lying while giving evidence in a Mackay District Court trial over allegations she helped her son flee the country.
The 66 year old testified she found out the day her son was arrested in the Philippines on September 15, 2017 because his wife had rung her with the news and questioned why it took "taxpayer funded" Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade five days to make the call.
Markis Scott Turner fled Australia on a yacht in August 2015, a month before his supreme court trial for cocaine smuggling and trafficking.
He was arrested on September 15, 2017.
His mother had pleaded not guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury charges over allegations she helped him escape and lied to the supreme court.
Mrs Turner said her son's wife Magdalena Turner had rung her the same day he was arrested.
"She said I've got an email and Markis has been arrested," Mrs Turner said, adding that she had been cooking meals for customers and told her daughter-in-law "I just can't stop I've got to keep going" and would phone her later.
She told the court she phoned "Magda" back using WhatsApp, which Commonwealth prosecutor Ben Power pointed out was an encrypted service the police could not tap.
"We always use WhatsApp, we've been using it for a long time," Mrs Turner said.
"You were aware that that was an encrypted phone service," Mr Power said.
"Whatever encrypted really means," Mrs Turner said.
Mr Power questioned Mrs Turner over a phone call made to her daughter after she had been informed by DFAT of her son's arrest and incarceration telling her daughter to phone her back on another number.
The phone call was replayed in court.
"We knew phones were bugged," Mrs Turner said, and claimed the phone intercepts had caused a lot of interference on phone calls.
Mr Power suggested the call sounded clear and that Mrs Turner had been "anxious" and wanted to speak on a line police had not tapped.
"No that wouldn't concern me," she said, adding she had been more upset by the "blatant misinformation" her son was facing drug charges in the Philippines and may face the death penalty.
"I had more of my mind than worrying about a bug on the phone."
The 66 year old complained about the bad phoneline more than once and said others had also had issues using her line.
"It's too much echoing," she said.
"Mrs Turner I suggest that you're telling an untruth because you didn't want to speak on that phone because you knew the police were listening," Mr Power said.
"At that stage all I wanted to do was tell my daughter and my husband the worst news," she said.
She said "I could hear it going 'rrr rrr rrr'" when she had phoned her daughter.
Mrs Turner testified for about five hours on Friday.
Mr Power questioned her about the 2016 supreme court hearing in relation to the $70,000 cash deposit and $450,000 surety she put up to secure her son's bail.
"You had a lot on the line in the supreme court hearing didn't you," Mr Power asked, suggesting she lied to the court that her son had taken his own life so she could have that money returned and gain access to a $1 million life insurance policy on his life.
The court heard she would receive 40 per cent of the life insurance.
Mr Power suggested she wanted the life insurance to help recoup money she had put towards his $800,000 legal bills.
Mrs Turner said she "had no other solution" than he had taken his own life and that she did not care about the money.
She also said she would have given her cut of the life insurance to Madga.
Mr Power also questioned Mrs Turner over Markis referring to himself at "Matt" when buying the Shangri-La in Cairns in July 2013.
She told the court she thought he had said "Nat", which was a childhood nickname.
Mrs Turner said she did not see a problem in putting the yacht in the name of Rural Trade Services, a company she took over as sole director from her son, because he was not able to have any assets in his name.
The court heard he was going bankrupt.
"You agree though that in order so … the creditors couldn't gain access to this boat you've put it into this company's name … at the request of Markis Turner," Mr Power asked.
"It didn't cross my mind about creditors, it was just … it had to be registered in some name whether it was Dick Smith or whoever. It turned out to be Rural Trade," she said.
Mr Power suggested she believed "he wouldn't want a yacht registered in his own name because he was on bail for very serious drug offences".
"Well you wouldn't be going sailing when you're on bail I don't think … I'm on bail and I certainly couldn't be doing that," she said.
"Not unless you were planning to sail out and never go back?" Mr Power asked.
"Well I'm not a 43-year-old buck," Mrs Turner said.
Mrs Turner disputed suggestions she helped her son escape telling the court the idea did not enter her mind when he bought the yacht.
"He never indicated in any way that he was going to let us down … or anyone down," she said.
"But it wouldn't have been letting anyone down because what you wanted was for him to be scot-free from those criminal charges," Mr Power pushed.
"No I never ever knew that would happen. All my intention was, was to help as much as I could to try and lessen the charges," Mrs Turner said.
"Escaping wasn't the solution to it, it was worse."
Mr Power said, "now that he's been caught it's worse."
Mrs Turner said their only hope was for a reduced sentence.
She will continue testifying on Monday morning.
UPDATE 2.30PM: THE mother of a Mackay businessman-turned-fugitive has testified a man she did not know turned up at her house with $40,000 in cash and purchased the Shangri-La.
A receipt book with the alleged transaction was tendered in Mackay District Court and dated for April 15, 2015.
Elizabeth Anne Turner told the court from that moment she had assumed the yacht had been sold.
The receipt included the name "J. Pableo" and the amount $40,000.
The 66 year old is accused of helping to buy the Shangri-La so her son Markis Scott Turner could flee the country ahead of his drug smuggling and trafficking trial in Mackay Supreme Court.
She has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury.
Mrs Turner opted to give evidence on Friday telling the jury she had believed her son wanted to buy the boat to do up and later re-sell.
By 2015, about four years since his arrest in 2011, Mrs Turner said the family was "pretty strapped".
She told the court Markis had been asking her to draw on her cash flow to help pay his bills, prompting her to ask him what property he could sell and the yacht was mentioned.
Mrs Turner said a man had approached her about the Shangri-La saying "this boat's a special boat, it's a one-off" and when he asked how much, she said her son was looking at $60,000.
She told the jury a man later knocked on her door and said "I've come to offer you some money for that yacht" and put up $40,000.
She said the man, who "couldn't speak very good English", came back the following week with the money.
"I needed the cash at the time," she said. "I was pretty strapped."
Under questioning from her barrister Saul Holt, Mrs Turner said from her point of view she had thought "that was the end of it" in relation to the yacht.
She said her son had owed her at least $40,000.
Australian Federal Police alleged Markis fled the country in August 2015. He was arrested in September 2017 in the Philippines.
Earlier this week, the jury was shown a number of documents purportedly linked to Mrs Turner.
This included an application to Australian Maritime Safety Authority to cancel the registration, a document for the yacht to be berthed at Mackay Marina and an email train with the Palm St boatyard where the Shangri-La was on a hardstand for about 10 months.
Mrs Turner told the court she had nothing to do with any of these documents, did not recognise the handwriting or signature purporting to be hers, and did not send the emails and before this case had no knowledge of the email Turnerholdings@gmail.com
The court heard Mr Turner had access to his own money through his mother's accounts because he went bankrupt in 2014.
Mrs Turner said Markis had been working and selling property and equipment for huge amounts after his arrest.
She told the court he had the $62,000 in cash when he had asked her to go with him to Cairns to buy the Shangri-La.
She said she had not really paid too much attention to the whole transaction.
She became emotional when asked about her son's mental health in the lead up to his disappearance.
"He was just broken I think," she testified.
"I think I could have helped him more if I wasn't in the same state.
"I was really struggling."
Mrs Turner told the court his mental and physical health deteriorated and she believed when he went missing he had taken his own life.
"His appearance was going downhill."
She said she had encouraged him to seek professional help.
The trial continues.
UPDATE 12.30PM: THE lawyer for Elizabeth Anne Turner told a jury his client found out about her son's arrest in the Philippines days before she was called by the Office of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Prosecution played the phone call in Mackay District Court earlier this week and had also highlighted the fact Mrs Turner did not seem surprised to learn her son was alive.
He was arrested on September 15, 2017 in the Philippines, two years after he went missing from Australia.
At a Brisbane Supreme Court hearing on April 21, 2016, Mrs Turner said she believed her son had taken his own life.
She is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury, to which she has pleaded not guilty.
Australian Federal Police allege she helped her son escape on a yacht name Shangri-La and then lied to the supreme court.
Mr Holt, in his opening to the jury, said the wife of Mr Turner - Magdalena Turner - had told his client of her son's arrest before she received the official call.
"She didn't act surprised because she wasn't," Mr Holt said.
"She had been told by Magdalena in the days before that Markis Turner was alive and imprisoned in the Philippines."
Mr Holt said Magdalena would give evidence confirming this.
Mrs Turner is still giving evidence. The trial continues.
INITIAL: THE wife of Markis Scott Turner will give evidence the handwriting on a document to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority to cancel the registration for the Shangri-La purportedly signed by his mother was hers, a court heard.
Elizabeth Anne Turner has pleaded not guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury.
It is alleged she helped her son flee the country and lied to the supreme court.
Mackay District Court today heard the 66 year old would give and call evidence in the trial against her.
"Liz Turner did not know that her son was going to flee Australia and she did not help him do so," defence barrister Saul Holt said.
"Markis Turner used his mum's name, details and money for his own purpose and he did so in a deceitful way."
It is alleged Mrs Turner helped her son purchase the Shangri-La in 2013 so he could abscond from the country in August 2015 to avoid his cocaine smuggling and trafficking trial.
He was arrested in September 2017 in the Philippines.
Mr Holt said a handwriting expert would give evidence on Monday that three signatures purported to be by Mrs Turner were actually forged.
The court heard Mr Turner's wife Magdalena Turner would give evidence the handwriting on the document to AMSA was hers.
Mr Holt said Mrs Turner had believed her son was buying the boat to do up and then resell.
Mrs Turner will give evidence first.
More to come.