Alleged Wangaratta ice dealer stays behind bars after abandoning bail application

An alleged major player in a Wangaratta drug syndicate was willing to risk incriminating himself even further in order to try for bail.

Luke Brown, 26, of Reservoir, has been in custody since November and faces 37 charges, including conspiracy to traffick methamphetamine, but DPP prosecutor Aaron Schulze has warned the number of charges could double once police finish investigating.

He told Wangaratta Magistrates’ Court on Friday it would be another two months until the full extent of the alleged drug syndicate’s crimes were known.

Police will allege the group sold more than 30 ounces of ice over three months during 2016 and was linked to a shooting in Wangaratta.

Brown was set to be the first of offenders in custody to apply for bail until his barrister John Sutton withdrew from the case in court because the small amount of evidence revealed by police so far, including some photographs and video, was not enough to make a case.

“I am well short of what I need for a serious bail application,” he said.

Mr Sutton warned it could be more than two years until court proceedings were finalised.

Brown told the court he was willing to make a bail application without a lawyer, but magistrate Ian Watkins said he would not allow it to go ahead.

“The biggest risk for him is that he might make things worse for himself, he might prejudice himself,” he said.

“It is in the interest of justice that the matter be adjourned.”

Brown will apply for bail again when the case returns to court in April.

Police were shocked on Friday when one of the other alleged drugs dealers showed up at court to support his friend, despite a clear condition of his bail being that he stay away from co-offenders.

About 10 people were arrested as part of the investigation, but only four were remanded in custody.

Senior Constable Robert Kidd said officers took photos of the man as evidence before sending him away from the courthouse and would consider charging him with breaching his bail.