De facto wins back $240k Lamborghini
A BITTER legal wrangle over a $240,000 Lamborghini seized at a drug baron's home
has taken a surprise new twist, with the Russian former defacto of a Gold Coast corporate spiv winning custody of the car after the state government agreed to settle the long-running saga.
Nelli Gennad'evna Erchova, 51, an accountant from Helensvale, succeeded in the Supreme Court on September 10 in her bid to claim the 1991 black Lamborghini Diablo, with
Queensland registration DIABLO, as her own.
The car was seized by police on March 25, 2014 when it was found parked at cannabis kingpin Justin Corke's Pimpama home during police raids and the case has been in court for five years.
Ms Erchova's barrister Charles Wilson told the court on September 10 that the state and Ms Erchova had "settled the matter as between themselves".
"There is evidence, which the state of Queensland, inferentially, now accepts, that Ms Erchova has an interest in the vehicle and the plates as they were gifted to her by her husband as recorded in his last will dated 3 September 2009 probate of which was granted on 16 November 2011," Mr Wilson told the court in written submissions.
The settlement came after jail inmate and convicted cannabis kingpin Terrence Thornbury, known to friends as "Shady", was summonsed to give evidence and state government lawyers succeeded in having the judge rule that the case was to be held in private.
Justice James Douglas ordered the Public Trustee to return the car to Ms Erchova to an address on the Gold Coast within 14 days of service of a sealed copy of the court order.
Ms Erchova, also known as Nelli Robertson, successfully claimed the car was a 40th birthday gift to her from her defacto partner, Rick Mayne, a deceased Gold Coast corporate spiv in 2008.
Ms Erchova previously told the court that she was with Mayne - 31 years her senior - for seven years until Mayne's death in September 2011.
Mayne is best known for being one of the state's shortest lived multi-millionaires. He was once worth $50 million, when his unlisted company Split-Cycle Technology raised about $200 million from mum and dad investors by claiming to have invented a revolutionary engine for cars.
Mayne's engine was never used in a car and the company collapsed, losing thousands of investors funds.
The Lamborghini was seized by the state of Queensland under proceeds of crime laws after it was found during a drug raid of Corke's home.
Corke was sentenced on February 6, 2017, to six years and six months prison for cannabis trafficking and cannabis possession.
Corke claimed that he bought it from infamous current inmate, former car dealer Terrence Thornbury, 41, in late May or early June 2010 for $60,000.
Thornbury was in the headlines earlier this year after he was married in a lavish wedding at Palen Creek prison farm, in a ceremony attended by more than 30 guests who were served Moreton Bay bugs, prawns and prime-cut steaks.
Ms Erchova's evidence was contradicted by Mayne's step-son Donald Stewart, from Arundel, who told the court in September last year that he "did not believe Mr Mayne gave the Lamborghini to Ms Errchova because he sold it".
Mr Stewart told the court that the car was "sold by" car dealer Terrence Thornbury "at Mr Mayne's request".
"After Mr Mayne told me he wanted to try and sell the Lamborghini I took Mr Thornbury to the workshop to have a look at the Lamborghini with a view to selling it for Mr Mayne"
"I remember Mr Thornbury later saying he had a buyer lined up and returned with the money.
"I was informed by Mr Mayne, and believe, that Mr Thornbury then organised for a tow truck to come and pick up the Lamborghini".
"I am aware that Ms Erchova is clsiming she owned the Lamborghini and that it had been stolen"
"Mr Mayne never mentioned to me giving the Lamborghini away to anyone including Ms Erchova," Mr Stewart states in his affidavit.
"If the Lamborghini had been stolen it would have been reported stolen to police straight away".
All of Corkes other seized assets - including property in the Gold Coast suburb of Wongawallan and cars - have now been forfeited to the state of Queensland, except for a 2007 Nissan Patrol 4WD which he get to keep.
Justice James Douglas ordered the State of Queensland to pay Ms Erchova's costs on an indemnity basis "to be agreed or assessed".
He directed the Public Trustee to take possession of Corke's property including $567,020 cash seized by police on March 25, 2014, $206,056 net sale proceeds of land, three other properties and the net sale proceeds from a 1967 Ford Mustang, a 1975 Holden Torana, a 1977 Holden Torana, a 1978 Holden HZ GTS Monaro, a 1971 Chevrolet Camaro a personalized registration plate EL4NOR.
A sum of $90,488 is to be paid to Legal Aid to pay for Corke's criminal defence at trial.