Bail refused for torture, kidnapping accused
A NSW man who is one of five accused in the alleged torture and kidnapping of an Ipswich businessman and his girlfriend has been refused bail despite offering cash sureties of up to $42,000.
The unsuccessful bail application of Justin John Kuhner, 40, who was extradited from Fairfield in Sydney, was heard over two days this week at Ipswich Magistrates Court.
When Magistrate Donna MacCallum made her decision to refuse bail on Friday after reviewing Crown prosecution and defence material overnight, Kuhner’s lawyer Mitchell Cavanagh sought for an adjournment, saying he would be making a legal summons to the Commissioner of Police.
Before making her decision Ms MacCallum sought clarification from Crown legal officer Andreas Galloway about how police tracked and allocated colours to mobile phones and ciphr (encrypted) phones that the suspects may have been using before and after their alleged crimes.
Mr Galloway said detectives worked backwards in tracking the phones.
Kuhner is one of five men charged in relation to the offences alleged to have been committed against Ipswich businessman Eduardus Groenewegen and girlfriend Caroll Dufailly at Raceview in the late evening of October 25, 2019.
The court heard that many of the charges have been declared serious organised crime offences, and as such carry mandatory sentences of seven years.
Kuhner and at least five others are jointly charged with doing acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm at Raceview on October 25, 2019; two counts of kidnapping; administering poison with intent to harm between October 24-27; two counts of torture; assaults causing bodily harm/armed/in company; two counts of deprivation of liberty; entering a dwelling with intent by break at night (serious organised crime); use, threaten violence when armed; two counts of extortion with intent to gain benefit with threat of detriment serious personal injury; face masked, blackened or disguised with intent to commit serious offence; impersonating police officers; and two counts of robbery when armed/in company/using personal violence.
Ms MacCallum said Kuhner offered a surety up to $42,000 and said he would live with his parents near Windsor in western Sydney.
She said a draft order (if granted bail) meant Kuhner would not have contact with anyone he knew to be involved in the Lone Wolf outlaw motorcycle gang, would not have access to weapons, have only one mobile phone, and report to Windsor police.
Ms MacCallum said the defence submitted that the Crown case was not particularly strong and based on largely circumstantial evidence.
She said police were getting potential DNA evidence forensically tested in New Zealand, and that up to seven people would be charged over the incident.
She the prosecution case was that five people arrived at the Raceview home at 10.38pm on October 25 in a black Ford transit van dressed as police officers.
There appeared to be no direct evidence that linked Kuhner to that group.
She said the van left with the two victims, and that two other people later left the house between 11.46pm and 11.52pm, taking property with them.
The vehicles of interest in the crimes included a Hino Pantech, a Mazda CX5, a silver-grey Holden wagon and a black Ford Ranger.
Ms MacCallum said Mr Cavanagh’s submission in the bail application was that Kuhner was described by police as being a Lone Wolf associate, but in fact was not a patched member.
Mr Cavanagh stated the matters against his client may not proceed to trial and until the DNA analysis was completed overseas he would be subject to a lengthy time held in custody.
Kuhner was being held in solitary confinement at a protection unit of the jail for 23 hours with very little human contact, with only an hour out of his cell.
There was also concern for his safety in custody after a person in an unrelated matter was charged with his attempted murder.
Ms MacCallum detailed some evidence in that police tracked various mobile phones linked to ciphr (encrypted) devices between relevant communication towers following the offences at Raceview.
A ciphr phone, purported to be Kuhner’s was web-traced via Sydney (12.37pm) and Brisbane (3pm) airports on October 25.
It was traced to telecommunication towers as being in Raceview on the same day at 4.09pm and 4.33pm.
Ms MacCallum said the Crown case was that ciphr phones were usually used by police or members of the intelligence communities.
Police also state Kuhner checked into the Ipswich Country Hotel with another male who was alleged to have supplied the Hino pantech truck.
Ms MacCallum said these were violent offences against the Ipswich couple that involved significant planning.
She said when taken as a whole, a pattern emerged that could be taken to implicate Kuhner.
Bail was refused, and the matter adjourned to September 18.