Racehorse Owner Accused Of Smuggling Cocaine Refused Bail
A high-profile race horsing figure accused of using coded text messages to smuggle millions of dollars worth of cocaine will remain behind bars after being refused bail.
Damion Flower, 47, faces life imprisonment over allegedly helping to direct more than 55 kilograms of cocaine in black duffel bags through Sydney Airport.
He appeared via video link in a Sydney court on Thursday where his application for bail to meet both family obligations and business interests was denied.
Magistrate Robert Williams noted the strength of the prosecution case along with the seriousness of the charges and the large quantity of drugs recovered.
Flower, a former baggage handler and part-owner of champion horse Snitzel, was arrested at his family home last week.
He was charged with six counts of importing a commercial quantity of a border-controlled drug.
Police allege Flower used coded language on a a "falsely subscribed" phone to communicate with his co-accused in directing the import from South Africa.
Magistrate Williams said 56 kilograms of drugs were recovered in the two instances where prosecutors claim they have a particularly strong case against Flower.
"In relation to each of the (six) offences before the court, there appears to be links directly to the actions of Flower," Williams said on Thursday, noting "overall supervision actions... can be gleaned from the facts".
Williams noted Flower's family had offered property worth more than $3 million as bail surety, but said he had difficulty balancing that against the strength of the prosecution's case and the seriousness of the charges.
"I do note there were 56 kilograms, gross, of drugs that were recovered," he said.
"These matters carry a life sentence... the Crown case is a strong case."
Williams did not find Flower's need to attend to his racing business a "powerful" factor for his release, adding his obligation to tend to his daughters' medical needs was unsatisfactory without evidence from a medical practitioner being provided to the court.
He also rejected a claim by Flower's lawyer, Chris Watson, that a trial may not start before mid-2020, saying the case wasn't complex and could be ready for trial early next year.
Outside court, Watson told reporters he thought the case for release had been compelling, and that appeal to the Supreme Court is "inevitably where we would have to consider going".
Flower will remain behind bars until at least July for his next court appearance. His lawyer previously told reporters he intends to plead not guilty to the six offences.
With AAP (also supplied feature image).