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Not Guilty of Drug Charges Due to Illegal Search

CRIMINAL CASE

Sydney Criminal Lawyers® had all drug supply and possession charges dismissed in Downing Centre Court by arguing that the police search of our client’s car was illegal.

Our client was driving his vehicle in Ultimo when police pulled him over for a random breath test.

Police claimed that while approaching the car, they observed our client lean over in a manner consistent with placing an item underneath the passenger seat.

They asked him “what did you just put under the seat” to which he replied “nothing”. Police administered a breath test which came back negative.

Police then advised they suspected our client of being in possession of drugs. They searched the car and located a small resealable bag containing 12 ‘ecstacy’ pills under the passenger seat.

They charged him with drug supply (deemed) due to the number of pills found and also with drug possession.

During the hearing, it was argued that simply observing a person lean over is insufficient by itself for police to form a reasonable suspicion in order to search the car. Indeed under cross examination during a voire dire (a hearing within a hearing), the officers admitted not being able to see any item in our client’s hand but simply seeing him momentarily lean over. It was also established the officers could not have had a clear view of this from their position.

The magistrate accepted that argument and found the ensuing search was illegal. She applied section 138 of the Evidence Act to exclude the evidence of drugs found after the search, and dismissed both charges.

The case serves as a reminder that a ‘reasonable suspicion’ must be ‘more than a mere possibility’ and based upon solid grounds; as per the leading case of R v Rondo.

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