ACT News

Bail denied after not guilty plea on drug importation charges

A Canberra man who allegedly had commercial quantities of drugs mailed to his home address has pleaded not guilty to charges carrying a potential life sentence.

But Christopher Walter Thorn, 38, has lost a bid for freedom and is likely to remain behind bars for Christmas, despite offering a $20,000 surety and pledging to stay at a rehabilitation facility to beat his 12-year addiction.

Thorn first came to the attention of authorities when Customs intercepted a package containing a large quantity of the drug GBL, similar to party drug GHB.

The package was allegedly on its way to Thorn, addressed using his name and home in Phillip.

Authorities instead removed the drug, replacing it with an inert substance, and sent the package on its way.

Thorn's home was later searched, and police allege they found $38,000 cash, sealed bags suspected to contain ice, and a list of consignment numbers.


Other shipments, including one allegedly destined to a PO box under Thorn's name, were also intercepted. 

Thorn is now facing four charges of importing a border-controlled drug, each of which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. 

His barrister James Lawton applied for bail on Thorn's behalf on Wednesday in the ACT Magistrates Court, after Thorn entered pleas of not guilty to all charges. 

Mr Lawton argued that Thorn could be released to a residential rehabilitation facility, Arcadia House, and could be placed on strict bail conditions. 

He said a $20,000 surety could also be offered to address the prosecution's fears that Thorn would abscond. 

Commonwealth prosecutor Katrina Musgrove said Thorn was facing life imprisonment, and that the Crown had a very strong case against him. 

Thorn, she said, did not have a job, and there was no evidence about how secure the rehabilitation facility was.

Mr Lawton argued Thorn had no failures to appear on his criminal record, and that there was a "significant onus" on him to stay in the rehabilitation program.

He said there was no evidence that his client would abscond, and that a curfew and police reporting conditions could be imposed to manage any risk. 

But Magistrate Peter Morrison said he was not prepared to grant Thorn bail. 

"The reality is that he faces very serious offences," he said.

Mr Morrison said he was not satisfied that bail conditions could manage the risk of Thorn failing to appear, despite acknowledging the $20,000 surety was "not insignificant".

Thorn became emotional as he left the courtroom.

The case will return to court in early January.