A Sydney man on trial in China charged with drug smuggling has told a court in Guangzhou he thought the suitcases he was instructed to travel with contained performance-enhancing drugs.
Peter Gardner, who holds both Australian and New Zealand citizenship, was arrested in Guangzhou International Airport in November 2014, as he waited to board a flight home to Sydney.
Chinese customs found 30kgs of crystal methamphetamine in two suitcases that he had checked in together with his Australian travel partner Kalynda Davis.
Authorities had to pry open the suitcases because the zippers were sealed with superglue.
Gardner, 25, told the court in Guangzhou during the first day of his trial that he thought the luggage contained performance-enhancing drugs, which would have been much more expensive bought in Australia.
He told the court it was all arranged by a well-known friend in Sydney, who had the suitcases delivered to Gardner at a luxury hotel in Guangzhou.
He said he was instructed to take a China Southern airline flight to Sydney as baggage handlers in Sydney would be ready to intercept the suitcases.
Gardner potentially faces the death penalty in China if found guilty.
He expressed remorse during the trial, for what he described as his own “stupidity”.
Two family members and a New Zealand diplomat were present at the hearing.
New Zealand consular officials have been providing Gardner with assistance, indicating he entered the country with his New Zealand passport.
His travel partner, Ms Davis, was allowed to return to Sydney after being detained for several weeks, because authorities said she had no knowledge of the case.
Gardner confirmed to the court in Guangzhou that Ms Davis knew nothing.
The trial lasted just one day, but the timeframe for a verdict is unclear and it may not be known for months.
Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong province, which is notorious for being the meth manufacturing hub of China.
Chinese law states anyone caught with 50 grams or more of heroin or methamphetamine is liable for capital punishment.
Gardner is one of several Australians detained in China on drug-related offences.
Adelaide jockey Anthony Bannister is awaiting a verdict after his trial last October.