A jury found Elizabeth Anne Turner guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury over allegations she helped her son flee Australia and then lied to the supreme court.
A jury found Elizabeth Anne Turner guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and perjury over allegations she helped her son flee Australia and then lied to the supreme court.

Barrister for fugitive’s mum makes bold legal move

THE barrister for a mother accused of helping her fugitive son flee the country to escape cocaine smuggling charges pushed to have a charge thrown out before her trial was over.

Elizabeth Anne Turner was on Thursday found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice and three counts of perjury. She will be sentenced on December 15.

The Daily Mercury can now reveal barrister Saul Holt argued the overall crown case against his client in respect to the attempting to pervert the course of justice charge was “not sufficient in law”.

Elizabeth Anne Turner will be sentenced in December after a jury found her guilty.
Elizabeth Anne Turner will be sentenced in December after a jury found her guilty.

Police say Turner, who owns a mining camp in Moranbah with her husband, took a number of steps to help her son escape including buying and preparing an ocean-going yacht, which he then sailed to the Philippines.

During a no-case submission last Thursday, Mr Holt argued the prosecution case was “overwhelmingly” preparatory and not immediately connected with Markis Turner actually absconding.

“The point that we’re making here for the purposes of this application is not that the conduct is innocent, but that it doesn’t meet the legal requirement in being more than preparatory,” he said.

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“Lots of acts by mere preparation do not by combination make an act that is more than mere preparation.

“I can do a lot of things to prepare something to happen – the fact that I’ve done a lot of them does not make them more than preparatory if each individual one is only preparatory.”

Mr Holt highlighted the allegation Turner bought the Shangri-La with her son so her son could flee and the purchase of boat parts to get it ready for an ocean voyage.

Mr Holt argued many steps needed to occur after the buying of the boat part to get to the point where “the course of justice (is) actually being perverted” – which in this case was Mr Turner not attending his 2015 supreme court trial for drug smuggling.

Markis Turner was charged with cocaine smuggling, trafficking and possession in 2011. Photo Ross Irby / Daily Mercury
Markis Turner was charged with cocaine smuggling, trafficking and possession in 2011. Photo Ross Irby / Daily Mercury

Mr Holt said this “puts it plainly as preparatory”.

In relation to allegations Turner, former owner of the Mount Coolon Hotel, gave her son large sums of money, Mr Holt said “providing something to someone to allow them to take other steps that might ultimately lead to the offence” was “classically preparatory acts”.

Commonwealth prosecutor Ben Power said the line between acts that were merely preparatory and constituted an actual offence was “a difficult one”.

“It is a question of fact for the jury, it is not a question of law,” Mr Power said.

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“The offence in this case is complete at the time the attempt is made.”

Mr Power said the prosecution case in relation to the allegation the boat was purchased to facilitate Mr Turner’s escape was “one of the acts relied on”.

“Even if it was just that, that’s all that was required of Mrs Turner, it was a step in fulfilment of Markis Turner’s escape if the jury finds that was done with that intention.

“In this particular case, the completed offence … is Markis Turner’s escaping the country and being kept away.

“So a step is taken that is not merely preparatory with the intention of facilitating his escape or his staying away … then the offence is complete.”

Markis Turner and his mum bought a boat in Cairns named Shangri-La which is sailed to the Philippines ahead of his drug smuggling trial
Markis Turner and his mum bought a boat in Cairns named Shangri-La which is sailed to the Philippines ahead of his drug smuggling trial

Mr Power argued the acts do not need to be immediately connected with him actually absconding, “they need to be acts which are directed towards his escape”.

He said each of the allegations were “steps in a plan” including her “throwing police off scent” by saying she believed he had taken his own life when she reported him missing in February 2016.

“If someone is hiding overseas and you are throwing police off scent,” Mr Power said, adding it was “hard to see how that’s preparatory”.

After some consideration Judge Suzanne Sheridan dismissed the application. Her reasons are yet to be published.

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