Conditional Release Orders in New South Wales

Information on this page was reviewed by a specialist defence lawyer before being published. Click to read more.
Manly Courthouse

Former NRL star Brett Stewart has pleaded guilty to cocaine possession. 

The Former Manly Sea Eagles star and part-time coach was arrested last month after police witnessed him making an illegal drug deal on a suburban street on the Northern Beaches. 

According to police, suspicions were raised when Mr Stewart got into the passenger side of a parked car, but only for about 20 seconds. They said that when the former star was stopped shortly thereafter, he admitted purchasing the cocaine and that it was in his wallet. 

He reportedly told police it was for his personal consumption. 

Guilty plea 

Police found the small bag of cocaine weighing 0.61g in his possession. 

They charged him with possession of a prohibited drug, which is an offence under section 10 of the Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act 1985  that carries a maximum penalty of 2 years in prison and/or a fine of $2,200.

Mr Stewart pleaded guilty to the charge in Manly Local Court.

Magistrate Robert Williams saw fit not to convict Mr Stewart, instead imposing nine-month conditional release order without conviction (a type of good behaviour bond), which will be in place until 3 February 2024. 

In doing so, his Honour took into account the small quantity of the drug, the early plea of guilty and the fact Mr Stewart’s only other criminal conviction relates to a driving offence.

Conditional Release Orders

Conditional release orders (CROs) were introduced as a sentencing option in 2018, replacing good behaviour bonds which could be imposed with or without conviction. 

CROs are outlined in section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act. If a court imposes a CRO without conviction, the guilty person is discharged by the court with no conviction recorded.

The court is more likely to hand down a CRO without a criminal conviction when: 

  • The offence is not serious in nature,
  • The person has no record of previous convictions, or no significant record of previous convictions,
  • The person has pleaded guilty to the offence at an early stage in the proceedings, and
  • There are other good reasons to impose a non-conviction order, such as the potential impact on the person’s career prospects or, in the case of driving offences, where losing a driver licence could lead to the loss of employment.

CROs cannot exceed 2 years and can come with a range of conditions, including the mandatory standard conditions and any additional conditions the court may see fit to impose.

The standard conditions are that the person must not commit any further criminal offence for the duration of the order, and must attend court if summoned to do so at any time during the term of the CRO. He or she will normally only be called back to court if a further offence is committed, in which case the court can resentence him or her for the original offence, and the breach can be considered an aggravating feature of the fresh offence.

The Magistrate has the power to impose additional conditions which may include: 

  • Not to visit specific places,
  • Not to associate with specific people,
  • Being supervised by a community corrections officer and report to the officer as directed,
  • Not to consume drugs and / or alcohol (or both), and/or
  • To undertake a rehabilitation or treatment programme.

Receive all of our articles weekly


Sonia Hickey

Sonia Hickey is a freelance writer, magazine journalist, and owner of 'Woman with Words'. She has a strong interest in social justice and is a member of the Sydney Criminal Lawyers® content team. Sonia is the winner of the Mondaq Thought Leadership Awards, Spring 2022.

Your Opinion Matters