FEDERAL prosecutors have requested the help of foreign agencies to gather evidence against three Newcastle men accused of a $245 million cocaine importation racket.
Newcastle Local Court heard on Tuesday that prosecutors were seeking an eight-week extension to prepare the brief of evidence against well-known musicians Craig Lembke and Kent Jackson, and another man, Dennis Bath, who were arrested in November when a catamaran was raided by police at Catalina Bay on Lake Macquarie.
Commonwealth DPP solicitor Louise Tompson said the brief in the case against the trio was not yet complete, with the transcription of phone taps and statements from state and federal authorities among the items outstanding.
The court heard the prosecution had also made a mutual assistance request to a foreign country.
According to the Attorney-General’s Department, Australia can make the request “for assistance in the investigation or prosecution of criminal offences”.
The assistance can include executing search warrants, production of documents, provision of evidence obtained by foreign law enforcement officials, taking evidence from witnesses and enforcing proceeds of crime orders.
Mr Lembke and Mr Jackson, both highly respected musicians, appeared via audio visual link.
Mr Lembke appeared first from Cessnock Correctional Centre, and then Mr Jackson from Long Bay Correctional Centre.
Mr Bath was excused from appearing.
It was by far the biggest drug bust in Hunter history when 700kg cocaine was allegedly seized from the boat on November 16.
Newcastle’s music industry was – and still is – in disbelief.
The matter was adjourned to May 1.