Drug kingpin could make history
A CAIRNS man who peddled huge quantities of drugs across the city for two years is expected to face the longest drug sentence in the region's history after admitting he was part of an organised crime syndicate.
Ryan Hill, 26, was due to go on trial in the Cairns Supreme Court yesterday for trafficking methylamphetamines, cocaine and MDMA as part of a four-man syndicate between 2016 and 2018, but made an 11th hour guilty plea.
Drug trafficking alone carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but new legislation brought into Queensland in 2016 adds a mandatory seven years to the sentence of someone found to be operating in a syndicate of three or more people.
Police have alleged Hill was among five people in the syndicate including Sydney man Sandeep Dharan, Cairns man and former Toll boss Jamie Payet, Cairns accountant Keiren Wilson and Cairns personal trainer Matt Hilton.
The trial for Mr Hilton, 33, began yesterday and was originally meant to be a joint trial with Hill before he pleaded.
The trial is due to run for three weeks.
Dharan, Wilson and Payet have already been sentenced and are expected to be called as witnesses during the trial.
Much of yesterday's proceedings was taken up by legal argument, but Justice Jim Henry spoke to the jury before excusing them, urging them to separate Mr Hilton's circumstances with others who might be mentioned during the trial.
"To the extent people have already been dealt with … everyone is a different human being, everyone is alleged to have done different things," he said.
"Whether or not others have pleaded guilty … they can't bind him.
"Our focus is on this fellow's role, not anyone else."
The court heard Mr Hilton is accused of trafficking as part of a syndicate in both Cairns and Sydney between March 1, 2016 to January 3, 2018.
The trial continues today.
Hill, who has been in custody since June last year, is due to be sentenced on April 3.