A judge has ruled that two shopping bags containing almost $160,000 found in the possession of a so-called outlaw bikie gang member during a police raid more than five years ago were not the proceeds of crime.
Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Peter Davis on Friday (20 August) dismissed the State of Queensland’s application for the forfeiture of $158,900 cash under the Criminal Proceeds Act 2002 (Qld) found by police during the execution of a search warrant at a luxury apartment at the Q1 Building in Surfers Paradise on 16 February 2016.
At the time of the raid, Queensland police confirmed officers from their anti-bikie Taskforce Maxima had arrested two people – alleged Hells Angels gang member Samuel King and his partner Nikki Maureen Napier – after officers seized a quantity of methylamphetamine, an automatic handgun and a large sum of cash.
The State Government applied for the forfeiture of the cash, however, a third party – Rachel Hobby – claimed the cash was legally hers and was simply being kept safe and taken care of by Samuel King.
Justice Davis, in his 19-page decision, said: “Ms Hobby claimed ownership of the money. On 21 June 2019 Ms Hobby was examined under oath about her claims to the money.”
During her evidence, Ms Hobby said the substantial sum of money found during the police raid were part of proceeds from a successful claim for damages for an injury she sustained almost 14-years ago.
“In 2008, Ms Hobby was injured and brought a claim for damages. She was ultimately successful in her claim and in June 2013 she received a part payment of the award namely, $30,000,” Justice Davis said.
“The balance of the money was paid later after an appeal by the insurer led to a reduction of the damages award.
“Ms Hobby’s husband had been violent to her during the marriage and she was frightened of him … (and she decided) that the proceeds of her claim ought to be preserved as much as possible for the long-term benefit of her children and so she determined that she would place the money outside of her possession.
“She explained that she was concerned that her husband may stand over her and force her to pay him the money.
“The $30,000, being the initial payment on the claim, was paid to her parents. They betrayed her and took the money. She had money stashed in a locked box at her parents’ house. She did not consider though that the money was safe.
“(Samuel) King had been known to Ms Hobby since childhood. He is a colourful character who is known to police. He has served a lengthy period of imprisonment. However, Ms Hobby trusted him to look after the money.”
The court was told that, over a period of time, Ms Hobby withdrew cash from her bank accounts in relatively large sums and then delivered that money in envelopes to Mr King’s parents – Samuel and Elizabeth Jones – who would then pass it on to him for safekeeping.
“Ms Hobby’s version of events was supported by Mr King and by Mr and Mrs Jones. They swore that envelopes would be delivered to them by Ms Hobby and then collected by their son,” Justice Davis said.
“Mr King supports Ms Hobby’s claims. He said, in his affidavit, that Ms Hobby would deliver money to him on the understanding that he could spend some of it provided that he ultimately paid it all back to her.
“He swore that the sum of money found in the unit at Q1 was the total of $170,000 that had been paid by Ms Hobby over time, less some money that he had spent, about $11,000. Both the money in the plastic bags and the money in Mr King’s pocket had been given to him by Ms Hobby.”
Justice Davis concluded Ms Hobby held the beneficial ownership of the money, which she had proved was not illegally acquired property, and was entitled to an order excluding the property from forfeiture.
He also ordered the Crown pay Ms Hobby’s legal costs.
Read the decision.