Accused meth trafficker loses challenge against police

AN ACCUSED drug trafficker has failed to prevent a phone, allegedly containing evidence of hundreds of deals, from being used against him in court.

Colin Mark Cahill was travelling in a car with a friend in North St, Toowoomba when they were pulled over by police last April.

A search of the car allegedly uncovered a wallet containing a small amount of methylamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. A phone, found during a "pat down" of Mr Cahill, was also seized. When police downloaded the phone messages, they allegedly discovered hundreds of messages relating to the supply of drugs over five months.

Mr Cahill was charged with drug trafficking but later claimed the police had searched the car illegally.

In an application to Toowoomba Supreme Court, his legal team claimed he and his driver were not detained under the Police Powers and Responsibilities Act and never agreed to the search. It was argued the search and subsequent pat down was "unlawful" and as a result, the drugs and phone could not be used as evidence.

A body camera worn by the arresting officer Constable Claire Heptinstall, was not turned on in the moments before the search.

During cross-examination, Const Heptinstall said she had had "formed a reasonable suspicion" that the car she had stopped was carrying drugs. She conceded the two men and their car had never been detained but insisted that, in line with the act, she asked both men if they consented to the search and they agreed. She said her failure to record the conversation was down to "inexperience".

In his judgment handed down in Brisbane Supreme Court yesterday, Justice Peter Lyons said he believed Const Heptinstall was telling the truth. He had "greater reservations" about the conversation before the pat down search but said he was still prepared to accept the officer's evidence.

He said even if the search was unlawful, he would still have allowed the phone to be used as evidence as Mr Cahill had provided "no reasonable basis" for it not to be.

The application was dismissed. Mr Cahill will front court on the trafficking charge in the new year.


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