Sunday, May 1, 2011

Pages from a top cop's high life

May 1, 2011 The Sydney Morning Herald

A woman's diary has become evidence in a drug case, writes Geesche Jacobsen.

WHEN she started an intimate relationship with a colleague, Louise Baker could not have imagined that the diary in which she lovingly charted their time together would end up in a court case for all to see.

Diary of a '"princess"
But the typed document, which highlights their dinners at Sydney's best restaurants and nights in the city's top hotels, became an exhibit in the trial of her lover, former NSW Crime Commission investigator Mark Standen, last week.

Among the 14 pages called ''Our year together'' is a reference to a trip the couple took to Dubai in January 2007 where they had dinner with Mr Standen's alleged co-conspirators.

The entry for January 25, 2007 reads: ''One and Only Mirage for lunch overlooking the Arabian Sea, played tennis, then dinner at Marrakech restaurant with Bill and Jimmy (who thought I wasn't to be trusted)''.

The Crown alleges the couple dined with businessman Bakhos ''Bill'' Jalalaty and former drug dealer and Crime Commission informant James Kinch. Mr Jalalaty, who was allegedly given about $1.7 million by Mr Kinch to invest in his business, allegedly paid for the couple's business-class airfares.

Mr Standen is accused of conspiring with Mr Jalalaty and Mr Kinch to import pseudoephedrine and to pervert the course of justice, and of participating in the supply of 300 kilograms of pseudoephedrine.

The Crown has alleged ''the purpose of the trip was to formulate the further plans about the anticipated importation including importantly methods of communication''. Ms Baker's diary also refers to shopping, lunches, a facial, ''desert safari and dinner in the desert'', sunbaking on the beach, and ''drinking Bollinger''.

The document, seized in Ms Baker's home, was tendered as an exhibit at Mr Standen's trial during the week.
Crown Prosecutor Hament Dhanji summarised parts for the jury: ''Dinner at Tetsuya's and reference to Sheraton Four Points. We have a reference to a dinner and see [an] appointment at diamond wholesaler, 'picked up ring' and other social engagements.''

The diary also lists dinners at Rockpool (on their first anniversary in August 2007), Aria, Otto, Icebergs and many others, stays at the InterContinental, and Sir Stamford (''best sheets ever''), weekends away, movies, musicals and the ballet.
The jury has heard Mr Standen referred to Ms Baker as ''princess'', but once told Mr Jalalaty she was contributing to the costs of their dinners. The court has also heard Mr Standen was in constant financial difficulties, frequently overdrew his account and had trouble paying his bills.

He once told Mr Jalalaty he did not have enough money to buy groceries and one of his children was drinking Milo from his son's army rations.

It is alleged Mr Standen became involved in the importation plan for financial reasons and discussed with Mr Jalalaty how they would spend the money they hoped to make. Mr Standen told police he was involved in legitimate import plans with Mr Jalalaty, a food wholesaler.

In December 2007 police intercepted a text message sent by Mr Standen to Ms Baker that said:
"Honey, you know how to get the most out of a holiday, retain those skills because within 20 weeks we will hit Bora or Maldives. I know that's longer than we planned but being realistic. Can't wait though. Plenty of fun to be had in the meantime …''

The court has heard a shipment of rice, allegedly supposed to contain the pseudoephedrine, arrived in Sydney in April 2008.
Ms Baker is due to give evidence in the Supreme Court trial this month.

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