Elizabeth Anne Turner, mother of Mackay business-turned-fugitive Markis Scott Turner pleads not guilty to charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and giving false testimony in the supreme court. Photo: Janessa Ekert
Elizabeth Anne Turner, mother of Mackay business-turned-fugitive Markis Scott Turner pleads not guilty to charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice and giving false testimony in the supreme court. Photo: Janessa Ekert

Missing $75,000 boat never mentioned to police

UPDATE 5PM: WHEN "Liz" Turner officially reported her son missing to police in early 2016 she did not mention a missing yacht named Shangri-La worth $75,000.

Mackay District Court heard she claimed to the boat's insurer the boat had been sold sometime in 2015, while paperwork to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority indicated the yacht was "broken up".

 

The prosecution alleges Markis Turner and his mother bought a yacht called the Shangri-La to help him escape the country.
The prosecution alleges Markis Turner and his mother bought a yacht called the Shangri-La to help him escape the country.

Mrs Turner went into Collinsville police station and spoke with then-officer in charge Acting Senior Sergeant Matthew Pyke on February 18 telling him "she had fears that her son had gone missing".

Markis Scott Turner was on bail when he fled the country in August 2015 ahead of his cocaine smuggling trial the following month.

The court heard she told Snr Sgt Pyke he was last seen on August 13, 2015 and that she believed her son had taken his own life.

Snr Sgt Pyke recalled Mrs Turner said, "Markis was going to do himself in … he was crying and saying I'm sorry".

She also told the officer her son had been "working west" for cash.

Markis Scott Turner was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.
Markis Scott Turner was arrested in the Philippines in 2017.

The court heard while the report was made in February, it was officially lodged in the police QPRIME system until March 6.

Defence barrister Saul Holt, in questioning Snr Sgt Pyke, pointed out this had resulted in a "genuine mistake" being made on a sworn statement, which was conceded.

Snr Sgt Pyke told the court he had been unaware of Markis Turner until his mother reported him missing.

Mr Holt said it had been no secret Mr Turner had gone missing after his September 11 trial date was vacated and asked if the officer had attended Mrs Turner's business premises, the Mount Coolon Hotel, as part of the Australian Federal Police investigation.

Snr Sgt Pyke said he could not recall".

"But you wouldn't deny that it happened?" Mr Holt asked

"I can't recall it," Snr Sgt Pyke said.

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Markis Turner was later arrested in Manila in the Philippines, in 2017.

The court heard Mrs Turner made the official police report after receiving advice in relation to the $450,000 surety and a $1 million life insurance policy against Mr Turner that was costing her $400 a month.

Mr Turner was briefly listed as missing before being delisted on advice from the AFP to the QPS missing persons unit that it was "all rubbish".

Former head of missing person unit Detective Senior Sergeant Damien Powell, who gave evidence today, said there was no report in the police QPRIME system of a missing or stolen yacht Shangri-La that Mrs Turner or her son had purchased.

Elizabeth Anne Turner. Photo: Janessa Ekert
Elizabeth Anne Turner. Photo: Janessa Ekert

"There is nothing of that nature recorded in QPRIME," Det Snr Sgt Powell told the court.

Mr Holt pointed out an error where Det Sgt Powell stated he had performed "an interrogation of the QPRIME system" on February 6, 2016.

When the officer described it as a clerical error, Mr Holt said it was a "genuine mistake made in a sworn document".

Australian Maritime Safety Authority deputy registrar Paul Grant gave evidence about an application for voluntary closure of registration for the Shangri-La listing the reason for closure as "broken up".

Under questioning from Mr Holt, Mr Grant said the signatures were "taken at face value".

The court heard Youi insured the Shangri-La.

A phone call to the company on November 21, 2016 from someone claiming to be Liz Turner was played in court this afternoon.

The court heard Mrs Turner said "I sold that vessel nearly two years ago" and asked for a refund.

The trial under Judge Suzanne Sheridan continues.

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UPDATE 2PM: THE mother of alleged Mackay cocaine kingpin Markis Scott Turner says her son used her name and money including forging her signature in his own efforts to flee the country ahead of his drug smuggling case.

Defence barrister Saul Holt, acting for Elizabeth Anne Turner, said the Commonwealth case was based on three factors - poor investigation, straightforward mistakes and gross speculation.

She claims she played no part in and had no idea of her son's escape in 2015.

Australian Federal Police arrested and charged Markis Turner in Mackay with serious drug offending in 2011.

His trial was meant to start in September 2015, but he never showed up.

Mackay District Court heard Mrs Turner had put up $450,000 surety plus paid $70,000 in cash as part of a $150,000 cash deposit to secure his bail release.

Crown Prosecutor Ben Power, acting for the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions, said Mr Turner sailed out of Queensland waters with his Polish brother-in-law to the Philippines.

"They sailed to the Philippines in a yacht that Elizabeth Turner owned. A yacht that Elizabeth Turner purchased for her son after she had paid $70,000 in cash deposit and after she had put $450,000 up as his surety," Mr Power said in his opening address to the jury.

 

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The court heard Mr Turner, who was arrested in the Philippines on September 15, 2017, had "no prior experience with sailing".

"The prosecution says Elizabeth Turner bought her son an ocean-going yacht named Shangri-La while he was on bail for very serious drug charges because she wanted him to be able to escape from those charges," Mr Power said.

The court heard invoices linked to storage and work on the yacht were sent to Mr Turner's parents.

It was also alleged that after her son disappeared Mrs Turner did not tell anyone in authority that he had "access to an ocean-going yacht, that she owned through a company, which was also missing".

Mr Power said it was alleged that was because she did not want him to be discovered.

The court heard Mrs Turner had signed a document in May 2015 stating the boat had been broken up.

However, Mr Holt in his opening to the jury, said signature samples would prove this to be a fake and his client did not sign the document.

Markis Scott Turner was arrested in 2011 in Mackay.
Markis Scott Turner was arrested in 2011 in Mackay.

"Liz Turner had nothing to do with her son's escape from Australia," Mr Holt said.

"She had no idea he was planning to do it. And when he disappeared, she genuinely believed … for really good reasons that her son had killed himself."

The court heard the dispute was about what Mrs Turner did and why she did it.

Mr Holt said the case was built on "poor investigation, straightforward mistakes … and gross speculation".

"The investigation and the prosecution of this case the whole way through … ignores the obvious reason for all of this which is the issue in the trial - that is that Markis Turner fled Australia without his mum's knowledge … but did so using her name, using at times her money and using details that made it look like … things were being done by her and by her husband," Mr Holt said.

Mrs Turner is also accused of lying to the Supreme Court of Queensland on April 21, 2016 at a hearing to determine whether she would get back all or part of the surety, and audio of her testimony will be played as part of the trial.

 

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Mr Power alleged Mrs Turner lied to the court that her son had taken his own life because she wanted him to "remain at large" and she wanted her money back.

The court heard Mrs Turner allegedly lied in her affidavit, when she was asked questions about her son's suicide and specific evidence about having access to a mobile phone when she was on a road trip with her husband around the same time Mr Turner left the country.

"Her reason for lying … was to try and distance herself from having any connection to her son at the precise time he disappeared," Mr Power said.

"The reason she thought she could get away with that lie was she didn't realise at that time it could be tracked to her."

But Mr Holt said getting something wrong in evidence was not perjury.

The trial resumes after lunch with the first witness Acting Senior Sergeant Matthew Pyke, who was the officer in charge at Collinsville Police Station, when Mrs Turner officially reported her son missing in 2016.

 

UPDATE 11.30am: FIFTEEN witnesses will give evidence for the Commonwealth in the trial against Elizabeth Anne Turner.

The Mount Coolon mother has pleaded not guilty to one count of attempting to pervert the course of justice and three counts of giving false testimony.

An eight-woman, four-man jury has been empanelled for the Mackay District Court trial, under Judge Suzanne Sheridan, which is expected to last all of this week and into next week.

The witnesses include officers from Queensland Police Service, Australian Federal Police and Border Force, as well as owners of a Mackay boatyard, the deputy registrar of Ships for Australian Maritime Safety Authority, an insurance investigator and telecommunications specialists.

 

INITIAL 11am: THE mother of a millionaire-turned-fugitive has pleaded not guilty to charges of perjury and attempting to pervert the course of justice over allegations she helped her son flee Australia.

The case against Elizabeth Anne Turner has begun in Mackay District Court.

She is accused of helping to buy and prepare a yacht so her son Markis Scott Turner could abscond from Australia ahead of his cocaine smuggling and trafficking trial in Mackay Supreme Court in September 2015.

Mrs Turner is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice between July 2013 and September 2017 and lying to the Supreme Court of Queensland on April 21, 2016.

This morning she formally entered not guilty pleas to the charges.

Commonwealth prosecutor Ben Power is instructed by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.

Brisbane silk Saul Holt and Barrister Andrew O'Brien, instructed by Bosscher Lawyers, represents Mrs Turner.

Jury selection has begun.

The Daily Mercury will provide updates throughout today and this week on the trial.


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