Cooloola Cove man accused of decade-long drug business

TWO members of an alleged north coast drug syndicate have given evidence against the man police allege ran it for a decade.

Cooloola Cove man Benjamin Russell Kelly, 50, has been charged with trafficking drugs, supplying drugs and three counts of producing more than 500 grams of a dangerous drug.

He applied for bail at Brisbane Supreme Court on Friday.

Police allege Mr Kelly was the key person in a decade-long drug enterprise.

Mr Kelly is accused of growing marijuana in state forests and national parks between December 2006 and April 2017.

Mr Kelly's barrister Leon Ackermann told the court he had intended to maintain the volume of evidence against his client was weak - until he was presented with a recent statement from Mr Kelly's co-accused on Friday morning.

The court heard another of Mr Kelly's co-accused has also given evidence against him.

Justice Sue Brown agreed and stated the Crown case, although early, appeared to be strong.

Mr Ackermann said Mr Kelly was not a risk of reoffending as the operation he had been accused of running had "clearly been smashed".

"It would be very, very, difficult indeed for him to return to the criminal activity to which he has been charged," he said.

The court heard police had monitored prison phone calls between Mr Kelly and another person in which they described the police informants as "dogs".

Mr Ackermann said it was an "unfortunate turn of phrase" but maintained Mr Kelly had no history of violence and was not alleged to have been a "standover man".

But Justice Brown said, due to the "significant" prison sentence facing Mr Kelly if convicted, there was a risk he would attempt to intimidate witnesses.

Bail was refused. If Mr Kelly pleads not guilty a trial is not expected to occur until 2018.

- NewsRegional



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