Lismore Court House. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star
Lismore Court House. Photo Cathy Adams / The Northern Star

COVID-19 stops man accused of drug supply attending rehab

A MAN accused of being involved in a large drug supply chain on the Northern Rivers has been denied bail because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Matthew Steven Rae appeared before Lismore Local Court via video link on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in an organised drug syndicate operating in Casino, Lismore and Tabulam.

Mr Rae arrested last year as a result of a spate of police raids in August.

He is facing charges of possessing a prohibited drug, suppling a prohibited drug on an ongoing basis and knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime.

Mr Rae’s solicitor, Rod Behan, said his client had been offered a bed at Victory House, a rehabilitation facility in Tweed Heads, as part of his bail condition back in January.

However, Mr Behan said Mr Rae was unable to attend the facility at this time because Victory House had closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“There are beds there, but they aren’t filling them at the moment,” Mr Behan said.

“He was accepted to Victory House, he’s been accepted to that residential rehab service but even though there are beds available there is no knowledge on when beds will be available, it could be months.”

In an application for bail, Mr Behan said Mr Rae could live with his mother until Victory House reopens.

However, Magistrate Jeff Linden refused the bail application but stated another one could be resubmitted at the next court mention on April 29 if confirmation from Victory House can be obtained over when they’ll accept new residents.

The Director of Public Prosecution prosecutor told the court they would not oppose bail on the condition a bed at Victory House was available for Mr Rae.

Mr Behan said he would also be challenging the facts of one of the charges, where police allegedly intercepted a phone call involving Mr Rae making arraignments to supply drugs.

He argued the call could never have been made on the date suggested by police because Mr Rae was in custody at the time.

Mr Rae will return to Lismore Local Court on April 29 for charge certification.



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