SOLICITORS for several of the "ice castle" accused have unsuccessfully tried to have more than 100 of their gun and drugs charges thrown out because of delays in getting the evidence.
Seventeen co-accused appeared in Tamworth Local Court on the same day. They're accused of being involved in what's been dubbed the Tamworth ice castle drug and gun supply ring, allegedly operating out of a Petra Avenue housing commission unit.
The court was told new evidence had come to light in several of the cases, served on the defence teams.
Melanie Caldwell appeared via video link from a Sydney prison, where she is being held on more than a dozen charges. The case was due to have the charges confirmed, but the court was told the DPP were not ready.
"The Crown and police are considering further charges in relation to some recently served material," DPP solicitor Kat McKay told the court.
Ms McKay said Strike Force Radius consisted of dozens of cases and some were ready to move to the next stage, but a number weren't.
The court heard that, under the court's practice note, charges should be certified within six months.
Caldwell was one of the first arrests in Strike Force Radius and has been in custody since late May, when the operation unfolded.
"Fresh material that was served in November has led to the consideration of fresh charges," Ms McKay said.
Caldwell's solicitor Garry Johnston lodged an application "to have it discharged" because the "time frames have been exceeded".
He argued that it was "not in the interests of justice" to have people in custody while briefs were being prepared.
The court heard it was a six-month investigation and "there's a considerable body of evidence" including telephone intercepts.
Ms McKay said material had continued to be served and it was involving consideration of charges for supplying firearms that were "particularly relevant to matters of [Melanie] Caldwell, [Cory Alan] Cloake ... and to the matter of [Anthony] Stanshall".
She said Stanshall was now facing a fresh charge of supplying a large commercial quantity of drugs.
Mr Johnston said "the legislation is very clear: it says 'must proceed'".
"It's there for a reason ... there's nothing else holding her in custody," he told the court.
Alleged ringleader disputes claims of pending charges
Stephen Hanshaw - the alleged ringleader - appeared via video link from the MRRC prison in Sydney.
Ms McKay said there was "consideration of further firearm charges".
"No, there's not," Hanshaw interjected, shaking his head and crossing his arms.
Solicitor Yvonne Phillipos joined the application to have it discharged. She said Hanshaw was refused bail only on these matters, and he couldn't access services or be classified while on remand, "which causes a lot of issues".
Ms Soars said Hanshaw was facing 45 "complex" charges and she can "only appreciate how frustrating that might be" for him to be on remand in prison, but she allowed one final adjournment.
"I decline to discharge Mr Hanshaw; I don't find it is in the interests of justice," she said.
Ms Soars said the charges should have been certified by November 30, within the six-month time frame, but the brief had not been compliant until mid-November.
"This, to me, is not the standard DPP matter," she said, adding it was "unfortunate and regrettable that there are delays", but there was hundreds of charges involved in the strike force.
Rebecca Joan Hanshaw is being held on large commercial drug supply allegations and faces life behind bars. She appeared via video link and waved to family seated in the court.
Legal Aid solicitor Alex Floyd said he was "not aware of additional evidence" and, while he wasn't making any application to discharge the case, it was a "matter that has always been subject to quite significant delays".
Ms McKay said there was additional information served on the Legal Aid office - after the officer-in-charge of the case showed the delivery receipt in court.
"I'm not aware of that," Mr Floyd said.
Magistrate doesn't condone delays
Ms Soars said she was "not condoning [the] delay" but adjourned the cases to late February, marking them "must proceed".
Ms McKay said there were "representations being considered by our office" from Stanshall's defence, but solicitor Amanda Gaw objected to the adjournment.
She said Stanshall had already spent nine months in custody in "maximum classification".
Similarly, Ms Phillipos asked for Cloake's 30 drug supply and firearms charges to be dismissed for the same reasons.
In his matter, the Crown was waiting on an outstanding ballistics report "as to the status of one of the firearms, as to whether it is a pistol".
The court heard that, if the charges were discharged, the accused could be charged almost immediately by the DPP with an ex-officio indictment.
Simone Hatch and Neil Cook's cases will head to a case conference next year to discuss the issues in the matters. Both remain on bail.
Peter Trompa, Luke Anthony Downs, Ethan Johnson, Suri Samantha Phoumindr and Phu Van Lam's defence did not oppose the charges being adjourned to March.