High-profile racehorse owner Damion Flower has been refused bail by a magistrate who said the strong drug smuggling case against him appeared to show he had a “supervision” role in the scheme.
Flower, whose stakes in a suite of racehorses includes Australia’s champion stallion Snitzel, is accused of helping to smuggle more than 55 kilograms of cocaine in black duffel bags through Sydney Airport.
The former baggage handler’s lawyer has previously told reporters that Flower intends to plead not guilty to the six offences.
Magistrate Robert Williams on Thursday noted Flower’s family had offered property worth more than $3 million as bail surety but said he had some difficulty in balancing that against the strength of the prosecution case, the seriousness of the charges and the large quantity of drugs recovered.
The Central Local Court magistrate said 56kg of drugs were recovered in the two instances where prosecutors say they have a particularly strong case against Flower.
“In relation to each of the (six) offences before the court, there appears to be links directly to the actions of Flower,” he said.
Mr Williams said prosecutors alleged Flower used coded language on a falsely subscribed phone and “overall supervision actions … can be gleaned from the facts”.
The magistrate stressed the Crown’s case wasn’t yet sworn evidence nor was he deciding Flower’s guilt.
The 47-year-old rose to prominence in racing with Group One-winning horse Snitzel, who is now Australia’s champion stallion commanding $40 million a year in service fees.
He’s since established a training facility on Sydney’s northwest fringe for his stable of racehorses.
But the magistrate said he wasn’t satisfied Flower’s need to attend to his racing business was reason enough to release the accused drug smuggler.
Mr Williams also rejected a claim by Flower’s lawyer, Chris Watson, that a trial may not start before mid-2020 saying the case wasn’t complex and it could be ready for trial early next year.
Mr Watson told reporters outside court he thought the case for release had been compelling and they may appeal to the Supreme Court.
“I would think that is inevitably where we would have to consider going,” he said.
Flower, wearing prison greens and appearing via video link, said “Thank you, your honour” as his former wife, Camilla, was comforted in the public gallery.
He is next due to appear via video link at the same court on July 17.