Lawyer charged over drugs

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 16:55 30/07/2014

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A prominent Wellington lawyer has kept name suppression on drug charges until a further hearing to fully determine whether his name should be made public.

The lawyer faces four charges of possession of LSD, methamphetamine and ecstasy along with a charge of possession of drug utensils for smoking methamphetamine.

Police allegedly searched his home, car and office last week.

Wellington District Court judge Tom Broadmore remanded the man on bail until next month for a full hearing.

The case had been brought forward after the lawyer yesterday made an urgent application to the HIgh Court to prevent his name being published.

The lawyer pleaded not guilty to the charges, which will now go to a case-review hearing.

Judge Broadmore agreed there was an arguable case for name suppression and that a judge from outside Wellington was needed to make the decision.

The judge bailed the lawyer on conditions that he live at his home, not consume illicit drugs and not leave New Zealand without permission of the police officer in charge of the case.

When first contacted by The Dominion Post on Monday, he flatly denied that he had been charged personally and said he was due to appear in court regarding clients' records that had been seized by police.

"No, no, not me," he said. "No, no, there was, no, that's not right . . . I haven't appeared in court."

When asked directly if he had been involved personally in drugs in any way, he again said no.

"There's all sorts of rumours going around . . . but . . . I'd be very careful there, man, because you know defamation and all that type of thing."

Yesterday, when contacted again and told that police had confirmed he was facing charges, the lawyer continued to deny any knowledge.

"I haven't been charged with anything. I haven't been served with them," he said.

Police confirmed that the lawyer had been charged with possession of methamphetamine, LSD and ecstasy, as well as possession of drug utensils. He has yet to make his first court appearance on the charges.

Police declined to comment further, but it is understood search warrants were executed on July 8 at the man's house, office and car in relation to Operation Fantail, a year-long investigation that led to several raids last month in central Wellington, Porirua, Masterton and Auckland.

A Tribesmen gang member, a Mongrel Mob associate, and a senior Highway 61 member were among 15 people arrested. Drugs, cash, cars and motorcycles were seized.

At the time, police said the operation showed rival gang members were actively co-operating in the sale and supply of methamphetamine within the Wellington district and lower North Island.

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After The Dominion Post made inquiries about the lawyer's case, another lawyer, Douglas Ewen, contacted the newspaper yesterday, saying he represented the man and asked to know whether a story was going to be published.

Ewen later applied to the High Court and was granted an interim order last night suppressing the man's name until a further hearing is held in the Wellington District Court.

- The Dominion Post

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