John Weekes

John Weekes is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Gym owner connected with cocaine dealing named

Michael Edward Byrne, alias Mickey B, wanted his name permanently suppressed. Photo / HOS
Michael Edward Byrne, alias Mickey B, wanted his name permanently suppressed. Photo / HOS

A mystery man implicated in a cocaine supply ring has been unmasked after a High Court judge dismissed a name suppression bid.

Michael Edward Byrne - known as Mickey B - owned an Auckland gym where cocaine dealing took place three years ago.

Byrne stood trial in the Auckland District Court in October on six counts of selling cocaine. Judge Jonathan Moses found that under the balance of probabilities, Byrne was involved in the offending. Yet Byrne was deemed unfit to stand trial because of medical and psychiatric conditions.

Byrne wanted his name permanently suppressed. Judge Moses declined the suppression and Byrne appealed to the High Court. Before Justice Patricia Courtney in the High Court at Auckland last month, Byrne's lawyer Ron Mansfield said his client was in "the early and progressive stages of dementia" and had anxiety and depression.

Publishing Byrne's name would negatively impact Byrne's Grey Lynn gym. Mansfield also argued naming Byrne would lead to "illegitimate consequences as though he had been convicted" of a crime.

Appearing for the Crown, Kevin Glubb opposed the appeal.

Justice Courtney wrote in her judgment, "One cannot help but have sympathy for Mr Byrne's family who face the financial hardship and for the investors who face financial loss in the business being affected. However, I consider that existing and prospective clients are entitled to know what happened."

Nigerian footballer Kindness Agwu and Aucklander Bert Leonard Jury were jailed for their roles in the cocaine ring. The drug was sent from South America in parcels of electronic games, gemstones and tins of food.

- Herald on Sunday

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