Cairns drug accused Ryan Hill.
Cairns drug accused Ryan Hill.

Cops, lawyers set to take stand in drug accused’s bid

TAPED prison phone calls are set to form key evidence for prosecutors as they fight a claim by an alleged Cairns drug boss he did not understand the charge he pleaded guilty to.

Ryan Hill, 26, is accused of being the Cairns head of a drug syndicate dealing large quantities of methylamphetamines, MDMA and cocaine around the city between 2016 and 2018.

He pleaded guilty in early February to drug trafficking as part of an organised crime syndicate, relatively new legislation which adds an extra seven years to a sentence if found guilty.

Mr Hill has switched lawyers since entering the plea and his new representatives have made an application, involving psychologist and psychiatrist reports, that he did not understand the consequences of the plea.

The Cairns Supreme Court heard today the Department of Public Prosecutions would likely be calling his former lawyers, along with police from the Major and Organised Crime Squad who spearheaded the drug investigation, to give evidence during the application.

Crown prosecutor Nathan Crane said they would also submit information from "Arunta" calls - phone calls made from jail involving Mr Hill - which "speak to his understanding of the charges against him".

"It will be the case that the Crown will be saying this wasn't a matter that came to a head on the day of the arraignment," he said.

Defence barrister Tony Glynn said Mr Hill "maintained his plea of guilty" to the trafficking charge, but was fighting the aggravating feature around the organised crime allegation.

He and Mr Crane both agreed the hearing should take around two days.

Justice Henry set it down for May 19-21 and said while it was "important to solve this in a timely way", Mr Hill was in custody and "not going anywhere for a long time".

He said holding the hearing in May could become "too logistically challenging" due to the virus crisis with restrictions over people physically appearing in court and it may need to be further adjourned.

Originally published as Cops, lawyers set to take stand in drug accused's bid to retract plea



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