The high profile and long-running case of Mackay mother Elizabeth Anne Turner was resolved recently when she was found guilty in the District Court of helping her son flee Australia to avoid major drug charges in 2015.
Ms Turner was found guilty of attempting to pervert the court of justice by assisting her son leave Australia and three counts of giving false evidence.
Bosscher Lawyers’ Alex Jones was Mrs Turner’s acting solicitor in this difficult case, which began when Markis Turner disappeared in 2015, a month before he was due to face trial in the Supreme Court of Queensland on drug smuggling and trafficking charges.
Markis had originally been arrested in Mackay in 2011 where it was alleged he was involved in a syndicate importing not less than 71.6kg of cocaine into Australia.
With his trial set for September 2015, in August 2015 Markis Turner departed Keppel Bay Marina with his brother–in–law Piotr Wiacek headed for the Philippines, where they arrived in November 2015. Markis was subsequently arrested by authorities in the Philippines in September 2017.
Markis failed to report to Mackay Police station a week after his departure for the Philippines, being on bail for which his mother Elisabeth was bound to a $450,000 surety. Mrs Turner did not report Markis missing until January 2016.
In proceedings seeking forfeiture of the surety in the Supreme Court at Brisbane in 2016, Mrs Turner gave sworn testimony that her affidavit sworn in October 2015 was true and correct. In that affidavit, she said she had no knowledge of her son’s plans to flee Australia and believed Markis had committed suicide as his mental health had been in decline.
At her trial, the prosecution alleged Mrs Turner made up this story in order to keep the bail surety money as well as collect the payout on a $1 million life insurance policy and help Markis avoid imprisonment.
It also emerged in court that in 2013, Mrs Turner had assisted Markis to purchase the $75,000 boat – the Shangri La – in which he had fled Australia, using her bank account and registering the yacht in the name of a company of which she was a director, Rural Trade Services. It was also alleged she arranged storage and insurance of the yacht. In May 2015 she signed an application closing its registration after falsely stating the yacht had been ‘broken up’, but in June 2015 arranged for launching of the boat from storage.
In her defence, Mrs Turner’s barrister Saul Holt QC, instructed by Alex Jones from Bosscher Lawyers, said that Mrs Turner’s actions in helping her son and giving him access to some of her bank accounts were done without knowledge of his plans to abscond from Australia.
“There is absolutely no doubt that some things that Liz Turner did, in fact, helped Markis Turner,” Holt told the jury. “[But] this is not an Oscar-winning actress — this is a 66-year-old outback publican.” This was a reference to Mrs Turner owning the Mt Coolon Hotel in Central Queensland.
The defence led evidence that the signature cancelling the registration of the yacht, for example, was forged.
Prosecutors countered the claim Mrs Turner was unaware of her son’s plans to leave Australia by alleging that she communicated in secret codes through encrypted software such as WhatsApp in a manner that suggested she knew Markis was still alive.
Despite the best efforts of the defence, the jury of eight women and four men found Mrs Turner guilty of all charges on 12 November 2020.
Bosscher Lawyers has 100 years of criminal law experience, specialising in the area of criminal defence. With offices throughout Queensland and NSW, we take a unique collaborative approach to every criminal matter so as to leave no stone unturned in presenting the best possible defence.
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