New Zealand beekeeper found not guilty of smuggling cocaine hidden in suitcase

New Zealand beekeeper found not guilty of smuggling cocaine hidden in suitcase

New Zealand beekeeper found not guilty of smuggling cocaine hidden in suitcase

Updated 1 September 2017, 20:20 AEST

A 68-year-old New Zealand man is found not guilty of smuggling more than two kilograms of cocaine into Perth after a court was told he was the victim of international scammers.

A 68-year-old New Zealand man has been found not guilty of smuggling more than two kilograms of cocaine into Perth.

Beekeeper Roy Stuart Arbon was on trial for smuggling the pure cocaine into Perth International Airport in February last year.

The cocaine was concealed inside a suitcase Mr Arbon brought to Australia from Brazil.

His defence lawyers did not dispute that the cocaine was concealed inside the bag, but said he was the victim of international online scammers.

Mr Arbon showed no reaction after the verdict was read out, but after Justice Joseph McGrath left the courtroom, he smiled and let out a deep breath .

When asked how he was feeling, he replied "great".

When asked whether he thought he'd be found not guilty, he said "yes" before being taken away by security guards.

Even though Mr Arbon was acquitted, he is due to be deported to New Zealand as his visa was cancelled when he arrived in Australia.

Outside the court, Mr Arbon's lawyer Sarah Oliver said he wanted to go home anyway.

"He wanted to thank the jury, and also the court and all the staff and all the people of Australia that have been so supportive of him, and the Legal Aid system for helping him with his defence in this matter," she said.

"He's just keen to get home to see his friends and family, and one of his close friends in New Zealand is very unwell, so he's very delighted to be getting home."

During the trial, the jury was told Mr Arbon was suffering from cognitive impairment and was suspected to have early onset dementia — although it could not be effectively diagnosed while he was in prison.

Suitcase destined for India as 'favour', court told

The court heard Mr Arbon had told authorities he had been given the bag by a Nigerian man in Brazil named "Anthony Lambert".

He told them he was taking the suitcase to India "as a favour", and he had checked it and believed it only contained clothes.

But Mr Arbon said he had not been able to go to India because he did not have a certificate for yellow fever vaccination.

The court heard the cocaine found in the suitcase at Perth Airport was estimated to be worth between $700,000 and $1.4 million.

The court also heard the New Zealand resident had been a victim of online scams in the past but had come to the attention of New Zealand customs officers before he flew out.

Arbon facing dementia test, brain scan

Ms Oliver said Mr Arbon had authorised her to release his psychological report to his treating doctor.

"I'm hoping with that ... he can get some help that might prevent him from falling victim again to these sorts of scams," she said.

"His life was very structured in custody so now that he's been released, he'll be able to be assessed by a medical team to work out if he's actually got dementia.

"Once he's home and settled, then that assessment can be done, but also he needs a scan done on his brain to look for degenerative changes as well."