2 Jul 2014

Drug mule called out for son-in-law

5:19 pm on 2 July 2014

A drug mule called out for her son-in-law when packages of cocaine burst inside her because he knew about the drugs, the Crown has told the High Court at Auckland.

Peter Leaitua.

Peter Leaitua. Photo: FACEBOOK

Closing arguments are being made in the High Court at Auckland in the case of Peter Phillip Leaitua, who is accused of importing cocaine which killed his mother-in-law when she attempted to smuggle the drug in her stomach.

Crown Prosecutor Kieran Raftery said Mr Leaitua acted as minder for Sorlinda Aristizabal Vega, a drug mule who died the day after arriving in Auckland in 2011 when several of the packets of cocaine burst inside her.

Mr Raftery said Mr Leaitua helped and encouraged Ms Vega to travel to New Zealand and knew she was carrying the class A drugs.

Ms Vega was in a motel toilet when she called out to Mr Leaitua, he said.

"She doesn't call out for her daughter. She calls out for Peter. Why? Why does she want him in the toilet with her, not her daughter?"

Mr Raftery said it was because Mr Leaitua knew she had swallowed drugs.

But defence lawyer Chris Wilkinson-Smith said Ms Vega called out for Mr Leaitua because he was the New Zealander who knew where the hospital was.

He said his client would never have agreed to let his mother-in-law carry drugs in her stomach, and that Ms Vega was a lame mule.

Ms Vega had stomach problems and had to take medication for her digestive system, Mr Wilkinson-Smith said.