26 Feb 2013

Final defendant in drugs case returns documents

5:44 pm on 26 February 2013

A defendant in a drug case has returned uncensored documents mistakenly given to him by police.

The documents were given to seven men accused of more than 100 drug-related offences as part of the normal legal disclosure process.

Judge Kevin Phillips says the documents in the Operation Canary drug case could be harmful to those who are named and ordered them to be returned to police.

Six of the accused have returned computer discs that the material was on, but Invercargill accountant David Payne refused to.

His lawyer David Slater argued that the Invercargill District Court did not have the power to order his client to return them.

The judge disagreed, saying police had not intended the censored information to be seen and Mr Payne was required to return the documents by 4pm on Tuesday.

The district court said Mr Payne has complied.

Operation Canary targeted a multimillion-dollar commercial cannabis growing operation in Southland and Otago over a four-year period, which ended in June 2012.