Three members of a group allegedly involved in supplying cocaine to the Byron Bay region have appeared in court. Photo: File
Three members of a group allegedly involved in supplying cocaine to the Byron Bay region have appeared in court. Photo: File

Drugs hidden in fire extinguisher led police to group

THREE members of a group accused of supplying drugs, some of which were hidden in a fire extinguisher, have appeared in court.

Co-accused Broken Head man Michael Robert Birch, 67, and Lennox Head man Philip David Emanuele, 50, and Suffolk Park man Scott Edward Biber's cases were in Tweed Heads Local Court on October 21.

There are also related allegations against Mr Biber's wife Suffolk Park woman Joanne McKinlay, 54.

Mr Emanuele faces 10 charges, including five counts of taking part in the supply of a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, supplying a prohibited drug, possessing or attempting to possess a restricted substance, drug possession and dealing with the proceeds of crime.

Mr Biber is charged with 15 offences including supplying a large commercial quantity of a prohibited drug, taking part in supplying a prohibited drug, supplying prohibited drugs on an ongoing basis and possess prohibited drug.

Mr Birch is facing 11 charges including possessing a prohibited drug, possessing an unauthorised prohibited firearm, knowingly deal with proceeds of crime, supplying a prohibited drug and take part in supplying of a prohibited drug.

Police will allege the group was charged after Mr Biber, a firefighter, was found with the drugs hidden in a fire extinguisher on January 9 this year.

Officers searched Mr Biber's home the same day and allegedly found a large amount of cash, another 12g of cocaine and a flick knife.

Defence solicitor Russell Baxter representing Mr Biber told the court he was not in court as he was in residential rehab at Odyssey House.

The DPP advised neither Biber's nor Birch's charge certificates were ready yet.

DPP solicitor Alanna Coxon applied for a month extension on the charge certificate claiming prosecutors needed to go through more than 25,000 individual telephone intercepts and evidence from a listening device.

Mr Emanuele, who was represented by Tracey Randall, said the matter had first come before the court on January 22 and was well past the six month period for charge certification.

"There are still problems from the defence perspective in terms of the large number of telephone intercepts and the lack of particularisation of which calls relying on for which charges," she said.

"If any meaningful case conference they need to be particularised in the case conference or it becomes to difficult."

She applied for and was granted a bail variation for her client to move house to Skennars Head.

All three cases are yet to have pleas entered and will come back to Tweed Heads Local Court on November 18.