Accused likely to plead guilty

A HILLGROVE man charged with a raft of child abuse and drug offences is expected to plead guilty.

Solicitor Rod Watt indicated his 38-year-old client, who can’t be named for legal reasons, would admit to the string of charges next month.

“It’s likely to be a plea of guilty,” he told Armidale Local Court yesterday.

“All of the matters are likely to be a plea of guilty.”

Mr Watt told the court the Sex Crime Squad had finished examining a computer seized from the man’s Hillgrove home and had not laid any fresh charges since the man’s September arrest.

“There will be no further charges for the child abuse,” Mr Watt said.

Prosecutors will proceed on three counts of producing, disseminating or possessing child abuse material.

The man is accused of engaging in sexually explicit online conversations with an undercover officer who was posing as a 35-year-old woman and her 11-year-old daughter.

Further details of the case were revealed yesterday after a ballistics report showed one of the weapons seized during the execution of a search warrant was prohibited.

The 38-year-old is already charged with possessing three or more unregistered firearms, one of which – a .22 calibre rifle with a silencer – was prohibited, but the report showed one of the other seven guns found at the property was a self-loading rifle.

The 38-year-old is also facing three counts of possessing a prohibited drug, supplying cannabis, cultivating a prohibited plant, dealing with property suspected of being the proceeds of crime, possessing ammunition without a licence and possessing or using a prohibited weapon without a permit.

Detectives will allege they seized 12 kilograms of cannabis, 20 cannabis plants, MDMA and amphetamines during the raid on the Hillgrove home on September 30.

The court was told the case could not progress until a laboratory certificate certifying the drugs was received, which could take up to three months, however Magistrate Karen Stafford said the accused could plead at any time.

“We all know about the terrible delays with the laboratories,” she said.

She praised the officer-in-charge, an Armidale detective, for submitting the drugs as soon as they were seized, preventing any further delays.

But Mr Watt said he had been waiting to see whether there would be any fresh charges from the Sex Crimes Squad before officially entering a plea on his client’s behalf.

The 38-year-old accused remains in custody until the case returns to court on March 5.

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