Judge delivers verdict in Qld drug syndicate trial
A SENIOR judge would have unlikely wanted to slap Cairns drug trafficker Ryan Hill with an extra mandatory seven years jail because it would have "denied justice" a legal expert said.
Hill will be sentenced on Thursday for dealing huge quantities of methylamphetamines, cocaine and MDMA in Cairns for almost two years between 2016 and 2018.
The court heard he regularly purchased 1kg quantities of meth for more than $130,000.
But Justice Peter Applegarth found him not guilty of being part of an organised crime syndicate - which included his Sydney based supplier and courier, along with another Cairns man - saying he was "not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt".
Hill is still expected to face a jail sentence over 10 years, with one of his main customers Matthew Hilton receiving a sentence of 10.5 years for trafficking in February - which he is understood to be appealing.
But the legislation, introduced by the State Government in 2010 to target organised crime, would have added a further seven years to whatever penalty received if he had been found guilty.
Veteran criminal lawyer and former Queensland Law Society president Bill Potts said courts were typically "reluctant" to apply mandatory sentencing.
"Mandatory sentencing denies justice because circumstances vary so must as does the personal circumstances of each offender," he said.
Hill's solicitor Aaron Mansia, from Philip Bovey and Company Lawyers, said his client applauded the result.
"Mr Hill is happy with the outcome and appreciative of the courts' careful consideration of the matter," he said.
Mr Potts said he feared both sides of politics were becoming too heavy handed with criminal legislation.
"I'm seeing the government, particularly for what may become a law and order election, reaching for the legal sledgehammer to appear to be tough, rather than seeing them becoming tough on the causes of crime."
Originally published as Judge delivers verdict in Ryan Hill drug syndicate trial