23 Feb 2013

Defendant in drugs trial refusing to return files

10:38 pm on 23 February 2013

Four of the five people given confidential police documents in error after an undercover drug operation have complied with court orders and returned the information.

However, a fifth person is refusing to hand back the documents as he believes he is entitled to the information.

Invercargill police handed out the disks as part of disclosure information to the lawyers of each of the accused in a major drugs sting.

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

One of the accused, David Payne, was able to access the PDF files and found that he could view information that had been blacked out by a police officer.

Mr Payne's lawyer, David Slater, argued in court on Friday that Judge Kevin Phillips did not have the power to order his client to return the files and the case should proceed to the High Court.

Judge Phillips has reserved his decision.