News National NZ pastor guilty of importing drugs

NZ pastor guilty of importing drugs

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An evangelical Christian pastor from New Zealand has been found guilty of importing more than nine kilos of methamphetamine and heroin into Australia.

A Supreme Court jury in Darwin found Bernadine Prince, 41, guilty after deliberating for five hours.

Prince has been in custody since she was arrested in Darwin in May last year and will be sentenced next week.

She is facing up to three years in jail.

She was charged with importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled substance.

Prince had been travelling in Kenya and Cambodia as a pastor for a Christian organisation called Oasis of Grace, and was on her way back to Australia when her luggage was delayed in Singapore.

When her bags arrived in Darwin a customs officer detected traces of drugs on seven vinyl backpacks inside them.

Prince said she did not know that $2 million of drugs were concealed inside the backpacks.

Prince told police a Kenyan woman known only as “Mummy Rose” suggested she sell the bags, supposedly made by Kenyan men and women, to her Australian congregation to raise funds, and that Mummy Rose and her son packed the bags into her suitcases with her.

The prosecution said the drugs fitted a Southeast Asian chemical profile.

“I grew up in a Christian home, very sheltered,” she told police in a video played during the trial.

“The names (of the drugs) you’re telling me, I couldn’t even say them,” she said.

“I have no knowledge of such a thing … I have not ever in my lifetime touched a drug of any kind.”