Charge dropped after fake prosecution

By Edward Gay

Hells Angels. Photo / File / Michael Cunningham
Hells Angels. Photo / File / Michael Cunningham

A senior Hells Angel has had a drug charge dropped as the fallout from the fake police prosecution of an undercover officer continues.

Philip Ernest Schubert, a former president of the Mt Eden chapter of the motorcycle gang, was charged with offering to supply methamphetamine after a covert police sting.

But the charge was dropped when he appeared at the High Court at Auckland this morning, following a damning court ruling on the police operation last week.

Justice Simon France ordered a stay of proceedings against a group of 21 gang members in Nelson who were facing a range of charges including drug offences and being part of an organised criminal group.

During an investigation dubbed Operation Explorer, police organised for an undercover police officer to be prosecuted to boost his credibility. Justice France described the action as a "fraud" against the courts.

Today in court, Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins confirmed Mr Schubert was arrested as part of the Nelson investigation.

He said the Crown did not oppose a stay in proceedings which effectively means that Mr Schubert's case will not go ahead.

However, Mr Perkins said Crown Law was reviewing Justice France's ruling and if there was an appeal then Mr Schubert's case could be brought back before the courts.

Mr Schubert's lawyer Eb Leary said he understood the appeal was being considered and would wait for the "tender hand" of Crown Law.

Outside court, Mr Schubert said there was no foundation to the charge in the first place and he had been prepared to fight it.

"I'm a 100 per cent confident that I would win."

He said he would be discussing an application for court costs against the police.

Mr Leary said he was confident that Justice France's ruling would be upheld on appeal.

"The decision is unassailable. It is water-tight in every single way."

Asked if he was considering going to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, Mr Leary said that was "like talking to a brick wall".

Prime Minister John Key said today that the police would need to reflect of their activities in light of Justice France's decision.

"All I can say is that undercover policing work is actually a very legitimate form of policing and it actually keeps New Zealanders safer and we need to think about the safety and security of those men and women that play an undercover role.

"If they have over-stepped the mark, which is essentially what the judiciary seem to be saying, then the police will need to reflect whether they agree on that and if they don't they'll want to appeal that. If they do they'll need to change their behaviour.''

Mr Key said he hadn't heard whether there would be an appeal.

- APNZ

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