Cairns drug accused Ryan Hill.
Cairns drug accused Ryan Hill.

Alleged drug boss trying to retract guilty plea

A CAIRNS man who was facing a lengthy sentence for drug trafficking will fight to withdraw his guilty plea because his lawyers claim he "didn't comprehend" legal advice given to him.

Ryan Hill, 26, is accused of trafficking methylamphetamines, cocaine and MDMA as part of an organised drug syndicate between 2016 and 2018 and pleaded guilty to the offending in the Cairns Supreme Court in early February.

Drug trafficking alone carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment but new legislation brought into Queensland in 2016 adds a mandatory seven years to the sentence of someone found to be operating in a syndicate of three or more people.

Mr Hill, who has been in custody since June last year, was due to be sentenced on Friday, but his legal team have now submitted an application to have the plea withdrawn which included affidavits from doctors and two medical reports.

Justice Jim Henry said the application appeared to be on the grounds "he didn't comprehend what he was doing".

Mr Hill submitted the guilty plea in front of Justice Henry, who queried whether defence barrister David James took issue with Justice Henry hearing the application.

Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill
Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill

"The argument there is that, despite how he appeared to me (when he entered the plea) and responded to me, I have to give no weight to that," Justice Henry said.

"Do you have a problem with me hearing it?

"If he looked like he didn't know what was going on I would have done something about it."

However Mr James said he was happy for Justice Henry to hear the matter.

He told the court they would argue about Mr Hill's comprehension of the legal advice he received, not the advice itself.

Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill
Cairns drug trafficking accused Ryan Hill

Crown prosecutor Eddie Coker told the court the application would need to be adjourned from Friday as affidavits might be required from Mr Hill's previous legal representatives and to consider whether any were required to be cross-examined.

Justice Henry said if anyone giving evidence was required to physically appear in court the matter may need to be adjourned "for months" due to the current coronavirus crisis.

The case will be mentioned briefly on Friday.

Originally published as Alleged Cairns drug boss trying to retract guilty plea


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