Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Crown closes case against Mark Standen, defence to proceed tomorrow

Lisa Davies From: The Daily Telegraph  June 08, 2011 12:00AM

Media shy ... Louise Baker leaving court / Pic: Ross Schultz Source:
The Daily Telegraph
THE Crown has formally closed its case against former NSW Crime Commission investigator Mark Standen, after 11 weeks of often evidence.

The jury has been told some legal issues have to be resolved, with the Justice Bruce James hopeful the trial can proceed with the defence case tomorrow morning.

Standen's counsel, Mark Ierace SC, has previously told the court his client will give evidence.

Earlier, the court heard that Mark Standen clearly was smitten with his then colleague Louise Baker, but theirs was not the lifestyle of a financially-stressed policeman and a lowly Crime Commission "monitor".

Ms Baker yesterday gave evidence at her former lover's trial, telling the Supreme Court that he bought her diamond jewellery, meals in top restaurants and stays in exclusive hotels.

But the jury previously has heard of the married investigator's ongoing financial problems, including once confessing to a friend he could not afford to buy groceries for his family.

Ms Baker told of him taking calls from banks about credit card bills - which he assured her were about to be paid.

Mr Standen, the former AFP agent and assistant director at the NSW Crime Commission, is on trial accused of becoming involved in a plot to import more than 300kg of pseudoephedrine in a bid to avoid complete financial disaster.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Sneaking only occasional glances in his direction, Ms Baker yesterday said Standen used both cash and credit cards to fund their outings.

She said the pair, who began an intimate relationship in August 2006, often spent between $250 and $500 on a single meal at restaurants like Otto, Aria, Tetsuyas and Doyles.

Mr Standen also lavished her with gifts including a diamond ring worth more than $4500, a Tiffany necklace worth $1250 and even a $2485 Fendi bag for Christmas.

To celebrate their first anniversary, they went to Rockpool restaurant and he gave her a Chanel bag worth almost $3000.

The pair also stayed in hotels including the Intercontinental, Sheraton Four Points and the Four Seasons, because Ms Baker still lived with her mother and Standen mostly commuted from his Central Coast family home.

But most crucial to the trial's key issues was a trip the couple took to Dubai in January 2007, which the Crown has alleged "was to formulate the further plans about the anticipated importation including, importantly, methods of communication".

Their business class flights were paid for by one alleged co-conspirator, Bill Jalalaty, who joined them on the trip, and the trio had dinner one night with the other alleged conspirator- former informer James Henry Kinch.

Ms Baker said she later queried her boyfriend about Mr Kinch believing that "I wasn't to be trusted".

"His response was he used to be a drug importer and he wanted to become legit and invest in businesses (like Jalalaty's)," she said.

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