A drug syndicate would never let a catamaran packed with more than 500 kilograms of cocaine be sailed from Tahiti to NSW without anyone on board knowing about their "precious cargo", a court has heard.
Crown prosecutor Rob Ranken told a Newcastle District Court jury on Monday that musician and keen sailor Craig Lembke had been given an encrypted phone by the syndicate to alert them if anything went wrong when skippering the yacht back to NSW.
Mr Ranken said Lembke's code name was Brisk Eagle and he had played an important role for the syndicate smuggling the drugs into Australia until his arrest.
Police later found a piece of paper inside Lembke's wallet which had the words "Encro 123" on one side and "Blackberries Sux" on the other side which were allegedly the code words needed to access the encrypted phone.
Mr Ranken said Lembke tossed the phone overboard before the catamaran reached the NSW coast.
Lembke, 49, of Mayfield East, and his co-accused, Daniel Percy, 36, of Western Australia, have pleaded not guilty to importing a commercial quantity of cocaine.
Lembke claims he did not know the cocaine was hidden in the twin hulls of the 13-metre catamaran Skarabej.
Percy is accused of organising the catamaran for the drug shipment but denies knowing the cocaine was on board.
The pure quantity of cocaine in the 700kg of white powder seized by police was 548kg.
Mr Ranken - in his closing address to the jury on Monday - said during one recorded conversation, Lembke asked a drug syndicate member what his "spy name" was again, before being told it was Brisk Eagle.
The prosecutor said the drug syndicate would have needed to know at all times what was happening with "their precious cargo" during the trip from Tahiti to NSW - so Lembke must have known the drugs were on board.
"Plainly, this was a very, very valuable commodity particularly to those arranging this importation," Mr Ranken said.
One of the drug shipment organisers, who was jailed for his role but cannot be named for legal reasons, told the jury he went to Lembke's home on September 30, 2017, to ask if he was interested in skippering the catamaran.
The organiser claimed he told Lembke he would be paid $500,000 for the job but did not mention the drugs during the 15-minute meeting.
Lembke allegedly agreed to do the job "if he had deniability if there was anything untoward about it", the organiser said.
Lembke set off from Tahiti in mid-October 2017 with his friend, David Mitchell - who'd started up a yacht delivery company - to sail the Skarabej to NSW.
The pair arrived at Lake Macquarie on November 14 and moored the Skarabej near the Toronto Royal Motor Yacht Club.
Police were monitoring the Skarabej when Lembke took a drug syndicate member out to the catamaran on November 15.
Lembke returned to shore while the syndicate member began using power tools to cut through the hull to access the drugs.
The trial, before Judge Jonathon Priestley, continues on Tuesday.
Australian Associated Press