News State NSW News Court told NSW man didn’t know he was collecting cocaine stash

Court told NSW man didn’t know he was collecting cocaine stash

Joe Amine's lawyer says his client had no idea whatsoever about the parcel's contents. Photo: Shutterstock
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A Sydney landscaper facing life in jail for drug smuggling may have been unaware he was involved in a cocaine importation, a court has been told.

Burwood man Joe Amine, 29, is accused of commercial drug importation after police arrested him outside a post office on Friday afternoon when he picked up a parcel containing 260 grams of cocaine.

He was granted bail on Saturday before prosecutors made a last-ditch bid to prevent his release.

His lawyer Elias Tabchouri said his client didn’t know what was in the package and had only collected it on behalf of someone else.

“If he doesn’t know what is in the parcel, he is innocent of this offence,” Mr Tabchouri told Parramatta Bail Court on Saturday.

As Amine and his family wept in court, the lawyer said police had been unable to find any evidence on his phone or in email connecting him to the package.

The parcel, sent from the United States, came to police attention after a random screening at the border, the court was told.

The cocaine’s street value was estimated at $120,000.

Police opposed bail, stating he was a flight risk due to his potential for a lengthy jail term and his criminal record containing two matters – cannabis supply and wounding – from 2009 and 2011.

They rebuffed the suggestion Amine didn’t know the package’s contents, saying he smiled when he got the package and was spooked when police confronted him.

“He walked out and smiled? This is not a movie where you have to look for clues,” Mr Tabchouri said.

“It’s not Murder, She Wrote.”

Acting magistrate Anthony Spence said the case was “line-ball” but granted bail on the condition Amine reports daily to police, obeys a nightly curfew, forfeits his passport and has someone put up a $50,000 surety.

But the decision may be subject to a Supreme Court appeal in coming days.
Police reserved their right to challenge the magistrate’s decision in the next three days, meaning Amine will stay behind bars for now.