19 December 2022

Man unlikely to be 'most cleverest drug dealer in the world' granted bail

| Albert McKnight
two men leaving court

Matthew William Byrne (right) leaves court with his lawyer, Kamy Saeedi, after being granted bail. Photo: Albert McKnight.

A special magistrate doubted a man accused of trafficking several different types of drugs would be “the most cleverest drug dealer in the world” after reading a description of allegations against him.

Matthew William Byrne was arrested on Thursday (15 December) over the alleged trafficking of heroin, MDMA and methylamphetamine between August and October 2022 as the result of a three-month police investigation.

The 32-year-old is alleged to have used encrypted apps on mobile phones to facilitate drug deals.

While police had stopped him when he was driving on 19 October, 2022, and allegedly found $64,000 in cash in his BMW M4, which was also seized, no drugs were in the car.

Special Magistrate Margaret Hunter remarked it appeared there was a “fairly strong case against this chap” when he applied for bail in the ACT Magistrates Court on Friday.

During the hearing, it was alleged that he had been involved in dealing drugs for a decade, but the special magistrate noted he had no offences for such crimes on his criminal history.

“Either he’s the most cleverest drug dealer in the world and hasn’t been caught yet, and I doubt that’s the case given what I’ve seen in the statement of facts,” she said.

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But she also said this was a large and serious case.

“Trafficking in drugs is a scourge on this community, because I see it every day of my work, dealing with its effects and its human toll,” she said.

Mr Byrne’s barrister, Steven Whybrow, had previously cross-examined a police officer heading up the case, during which he attacked “extravagant” statements that alleged his client had been a drug dealer for a decade.

The officer denied they were extravagant comments, alleged witnesses feared Mr Byrne and noted how the Googong man had been subjected to search warrants for a number of years and was aware police had been keeping an eye on him.

The court heard police had raided the home of Mr Byrne’s co-defendant in September 2022.

They allegedly found five guns, 85 grams of heroin and of methylamphetamine, 278 grams of MDMA, 1486ml of 1,4-butanediol, large amounts of steroids and other pharmaceuticals and $64,000 cash, court documents say.

But in court, the officer admitted police still didn’t have forensic evidence linking Mr Byrne to items from the raid as they hadn’t been taken for forensic examination.

He also admitted police had had most of the alleged evidence against Mr Byrne since late October.

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Mr Whybrow said his client, who works in construction and property development, had no history of drug offences, nor were there indications he used drugs.

He said the matter could still be in the Magistrates Courts by this time next year, so the delay was a significant issue.

Special Magistrate Hunter ultimately granted Mr Byrne bail on numerous strict conditions, including a $10,000 surety, a night-time curfew, not to use an encrypted communication service and not to contact several people including the co-defendant.

The matter was adjourned to 7 March, 2023. Mr Byrne had entered not guilty pleas to five counts of trafficking in a controlled drug as well as to a single count of dealing with money suspected to be the proceeds of crime.

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