Paul Alan Bettie, 65, admitted not making a cash declaration, but denied acquiring, using or possessing the money, which he knew represented the proceeds of another person’s criminal conduct.
The Royal Court heard how Mr Bettie was stopped at the ferry terminal over the August Bank Holiday weekend of 2017 and he had seven heat-sealed bags containing £153,200, which he claimed was his life savings.
Prosecuting advocate William Giles said it was their case that the defendant was a cash courier or mule.
‘There’s no rational or plausible explanation for Mr Bettie to be in possession of this amount of money,’ said Advocate Giles.
He said that Mr Bettie’s explanations were contradictory and inconsistent.
Mr Bettie had no formal income or benefits and he did not often use the banking system. In 2010 he received £61,000 in a divorce settlement and he claimed he had been supplementing this by ‘buying and selling’ and gambling.
Mr Bettie travelled to Guernsey on the fast ferry from Poole with his daughter and granddaughter in 2017.
During the weekend he used his daughter’s phone, claiming he had lost his, and contacted several numbers.
At around the time Mr Bettie was meant to be disembarking the ferry from Guernsey to Poole, the daughter’s phone received dozens of missed calls. At the time Mr Bettie was in police custody.
After two days in Guernsey, the family were at the ferry compound at about 3pm, waiting to go to Poole. Mr Bettie told customs he was not carrying anything he should not have been, but Guernsey border agency cash dog Harley gave a positive indication and a holdall was found in Mr Bettie’s footwell. Inside, under a scarf, was seven heat-sealed bags, each containing between £10,000 and £25,000. Just over half the cash - £83,980 - was in Channel Island notes, despite Mr Bettie not having visited the island before.
He told the police he had thought he was still in the UK and had not realised he needed to make a cash declaration.
He said he had brought £90,000 to the island and had won the rest of the money in a card game. A friend had then lent him the heat sealing machine to make the money smaller, so it would fit in the car. One of the phone numbers that called Mr Bettie was this friend, who was from London. But despite repeated attempts by the police for him to answer questions, he never responded. When Mr Bettie was released on bail, he returned to London. He was using his usual phone and that was recorded as being near Wimbledon. The friend’s phone was registered there at the same time.
Another number who Mr Bettie was contacting during his holiday belonged to a man who was later arrested on suspicion of drug offences.
In checking Mr Bettie’s background, a UK gambling business records showed Mr Bettie had either broken even or lost money over the last two years.
Kirsty Player, who was in charge of the case, gave evidence. She said the defendant had claimed he got the Guernsey notes in the UK.
In interview Mr Beattie said he kept the money in the car and hotel room during the trip and was not worried about it being stolen.
He struggled to remember things in his interview, including what he had eaten for lunch that day.
The case continues today.