Man appeals jail sentence after busted with $45K in cash

A VIETNAMESE man caught with $45,000 in cash in his car remains in jail after his sentencing appeal was dismissed.

Last year, The Danh Pham was convicted of dealing with property proceeds of crime, after police located $45,000 in cash while searching Pham’s vehicle when he was pulled over for a faulty tail-light along the Pacific Highway near Brunswick Heads in January 2019.

However, Pham appeared before Lismore District Court on Monday to appeal his conviction, after he claimed the vehicle search was illegal and he was not given the opportunity to use a Vietnamese interpreter during his interview with police.

During court proceedings, Pham’s solicitor, Tenika Vakauta, asked one of the arresting officers whether he understood the NSW Police handbook requires anyone who is not a native English speaker the opportunity to access an interpreter.

“I formed the opinion he could fully understand what I was saying,” the Senior Constable told the court.

“He stated ‘as long as you speak slowly, I can understand what you are saying’.

“His actions were understandable of what he was being asked.”

After a search of the vehicle’s number plates indicated Pham was not the owner of the car, the Sen-Constable said his suspicions about the actions of Pham and his passenger “were confirmed” after their “stories” didn’t match.

“They were both nervous, Pham’s hands were shaking,” he said.

“Pham stated he was going to see his wife and child, the passenger said he was going to see a friend in Brisbane while Pham said the Gold Coast.”

Upon the discovery of the cash hidden in a pillowcase, which police alleged smelled of cannabis, the pair were taken into custody for questioning.

Judge Jeffrey McLennan said the evidence heard in court proved Pham had a general understanding of what was being asked of him during the police interview and at no point had required an interpreter.

“It is also in my view not possible to argue that the police did not have a reasonable suspicion (to search the vehicle),” McLennan said.

“In light of what they knew, it would have been negligent of them not to search the vehicle to see if Pham had drugs or other drug related paraphernalia in his possession.”

Pham’s conviction appeal was dismissed, and his two-year sentence will continue with a non-parole period of 18 months.

He will be eligible for parole on April 13, 2021.

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