Four years in jail without trial!

Soviet NSW. Justice delayed is justice denied

A MAN accused over a multi-million dollar cocaine syndicate will finally stand trial almost four years after he was charged, a Supreme Court judge today resoundingly criticising the delays in his case as "significant" and "oppressive".

Justice Stephen Rothman today refused bail for Luke John Sparos, but said there were a number of "troubling" aspects to his decision. One was the delay, he said, and leant his judicial weight to comments by a local court magistrate Geoff Bradd that the case led by the NSW Crime Commission had long been in disarray.

He endorsed the comments made by Magistrate Bradd, who accused the DPP and the Crime Commission of trying to "have it both ways." "(Magistrate Bradd said) you either prosecute this matter or you don’t - to say this is a fishing expedition … well it is just beyond the pale."

Had it not been for the seriousness of the charges and the risk of flight if given his freedom, Justice Rothman said bail would likely have been granted.

"Fatboy" Sparos was allegedly one of two principals to an international cocaine cartel responsible for the importation of around 200kg of cocaine. He was charged in early 2007 with offences relating to alleged proceeds of crime funds, but later charged along with a number of others with a long-running conspiracy to import a commercial quantity of cocaine in July of that year.

Justice Rothman described the Crown case as being strong, but said unacceptable that Sparos had been unable to adequately prepare for his trial due to his lengthy and restrictive situation in custody.

The court even heard how some of the brief provided to Sparos in custody had been "lost" as Department of Corrective Services officials moved him around the prison system.

"It’s inappropriate for a person to be unduly delayed on remand while the Crown get’s its act together," Justice Rothman said. "Of course not all time spent is a delay … but in this case there (have been) significant delays."

Justice Rothman directed the Crown and Corrective Services "to take all steps" necessary to provide Sparos or his legal team with the documents that were originally in his possession.

The District Court registry had notified the Crown prosecutor that Sparos’ trial could begin by the end of February.


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