Convicted drug manufacturers argue profits from crimes

THE lone voice of a witness scared for her safety rang through as convicted drug manufacturers with links to a multi-million-dollar bikie meth operation in central Queensland faced court.

Michael Paul Falzon, from Ilbilbie, and James Thomas O'Brien, from Rockhampton, are fighting to stop authorities taking their money under proceeds of crime laws.

Both men have been convicted of trafficking and producing methylamphetamine, with Falzon serving 10 years in prison and O'Brien serving a 14-year sentence.

The first day of the trial under Queensland Chief Justice Tim Carmody was a slow one, with Falzon sitting in the docks.

Falzon was told he could not argue against his conviction, which the court has decided - only the degree to which he profited from crime.

Barrister Richard Douglas, acting for the State of Queensland, admitted it was difficult to gauge a dollar-value for the operation because "unsurprisingly, people don't keep records".

He said the claim against O'Brien and Falzon was for $17 million each, although that figure could be decreased.

Only a few minutes of evidence were given, during which Falzon and the public were sent to another court room to listen via audio-link for the safety and anonymity of the witness.

Under cross-examination, she stated she first gave evidence against O'Brien in 2002 because she feared for her life and that of her son.

"It was to get help from the police so we would survive," she said.

She is due to give evidence again today.



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