Why woman’s hearing on cocaine charges hasn’t happened yet

A Byron Shire woman’s cocaine supply hearing has been delayed because the police may have withheld information that could clear her name, a court has heard.

Joanne McKinlay, 55, from Suffolk Park, was last year charged alongside her partner Scott Edward Biber, 57, Broken Head man Michael Robert Birch, 67, and Lennox Head man Philip David Emanuele, 50, over the alleged supply of cocaine in the Byron Bay area.

Ms McKinlay has pleaded not guilty to three charges of taking part in the supply of cocaine, deemed supply of 340 grams of cannabis, possession of a prohibited weapon and recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, the latter of which relates to $1800 cash.

One of her drug supply charges relates to her alleged involvement in the supply of a large commercial quantity of cocaine.

Her Suffolk Park home was raided by police after Mr Biber’s arrest in January 2020.

The three men are facing numerous similar charges and will return to Tweed Heads Local Court on May 14.

Ms McKinlay’s charges will remain in the Local Court while her co-accused are expected to be prosecuted in a higher court.

She was due to face a hearing before Byron Bay Local Court on Tuesday but her solicitor, Tracey Randall, filed a last-minute application to vacate the hearing on April 15.

DPP prosecutor Sarah Wilkin made no argument against this delay and Magistrate Karen Stafford signed off on it in chambers the following day.

In the document, Ms Randall detailed her reasons for the application as the “outstanding disclosure of exculpatory material”, in the form of body-worn video footage from the police interview with her client.

She cited the prosecution’s “failure” to provide particular details on telephone intercepts as a further reason.

“I’ve vacated the hearing because of the grounds set out in the application,” Ms Stafford said in court on Tuesday.

Ms Stafford queried both parties about the expected length of the hearing.

Ms Randall said a search warrant video to be played to the court, along with body-worn video she hasn’t yet received, would take hours.

The matter was adjourned for a further mention on June 22 and a new hearing date of November 23 was scheduled.

The court heard Ms McKinlay would seek a costs order against the prosecution because of the delay; this has yet to be determined.


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