Police have charged a man in his 70s after officers allegedly found 36kg of cannabis in the boot of his car at Ewingsdale on the morning of Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Police have charged a man in his 70s after officers allegedly found 36kg of cannabis in the boot of his car at Ewingsdale on the morning of Saturday, January 16, 2021.

Man, 76, allegedly spent $200K on cannabis

A seriously ill Queensland man who was charged with drug offences after a traffic stop near Byron Bay is alleged to have forked out $200,000 on cannabis in Coffs Harbour, a court has heard.

Noel Ryan, 76, from the Queensland suburb of Banyo, was arrested after his vehicle was stopped on the Pacific Highway near Byron Bay early Saturday morning.

Police will allege they found 36kg of cannabis head in the rear of his vehicle.

When he Byron Bay Local Court via video link from Clarence Correctional Centre on Monday, defence solicitor Zoe Hunter applied for bail and told the court of Mr Ryan's "extensive medical issues", including advanced renal disease.

Ms Hunter said her client spoke highly of the jail's medical centre but stressed his medical conditions were so numerous and complex it was difficult for them to provide the "significant specialist care" he requires.

Police have charged a man in his 70s after officers allegedly found 36kg of cannabis in the boot of his car at Ewingsdale on the morning of Saturday, January 16, 2021.
Police have charged a man in his 70s after officers allegedly found 36kg of cannabis in the boot of his car at Ewingsdale on the morning of Saturday, January 16, 2021.

The court heard Mr Ryan's wife had been stuck in the Cook Islands for 15 months due to COVID-19.

Police prosecutor Chris Martin said Mr Ryan could reasonably be treated in custody and disputed the defence claim he had to have pristine surroundings to avoid potentially fatal infection.

"He's left his Brisbane home presumably to go to Coffs Harbour," Sgt Martin said.

Sgt Martin said while Ms Hunter argued her client must refrain from possible contact with infections, he travelled to "make contact with, let's assume someone unsavoury, in Coffs Harbour, who he paid a large sum of money for cannabis," Sgt Martin said.

Magistrate Jeff Linden said based on the police account of events presented to the court, it was a "very strong prosecution case", pointing to a comment Mr Ryan allegedly paid $200,000 in cash to "a person in Coffs Harbour" with a view to on-sell the drug in Queensland.

"What concerns me is the number and nature of the illnesses suffered by the defendant," Mr Linden said.

Mr Linden granted Mr Ryan conditional bail.

The accused must report to Hendra Police Station three times a week and must agree to forfeit $100,000 if he breaches bail.

Mr Ryan has lodged no formal pleas to his charges of supplying a commercial quantity of cannabis, a drug possession charge relating to the same quantity of cannabis and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

The case will return to court on March 15.


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