Senior Trial Advocate: Manny Conditsis
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) charged 5 co-accused with conspiring to import 40kg of methylamphetamine powder into Australia by ship from Europe. Manny Conditsis represented one of the accused, who was a 60 year old Port Botany wharf worker. Each of the other 4 co-accused were represented by separate barristers.
The AFP poured endless resources into trying to establish the guilt of all those charged. The trial was conducted over 3 months in a special court of the District Court in Sydney. The atmosphere in the courtroom was most intense and the charges and the case presented by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions [CDPP] made the trial particularly complicated.
The trial involved Serbian translators’ countless expert witnesses, in the fields of DNA, mobile phone technology, police who purported to interpret coded covertly recorded conversations between some of the co-accused and so on.
Somewhat dramatically, during his cross examination, one of the co-accused told the Judge he would plead guilty. That had a significant impact on the course of the trial and made the trial even more tense.
Part of our client’s case was that he was a simple man with an intellectual disability, in other words, a cognitive impairment; that he didn’t have any knowledge of the alleged import, notwithstanding that he was caught carrying one of the bags (20kg) out of Port Botany. Our client’s defence was that this simple man, was asked by his boss of many years whom he idolised, to carry the bag out to the car park and that is what he did, and that he didn’t know that the bag contained the methylamphetamine.
Each of the co-accused were found guilty and sentenced to lengthy terms of imprisonment. When it came to our client, the jury was undecided and accordingly, the jury was ‘hung’ as to what the result should be.
After forcefully submitting to the CDPP that the charge against our client should be withdrawn, the CDPP was persuaded to do so, and our elderly client was a free man and able to return to his family!