Jamil Hopoate bail on drug charge delayed

·3-min read

Former NRL player Jamil Hopoate's bail application for his alleged role in the importation of 514kg of cocaine has been delayed by the fact he was found with a "neutral substance".

The 26-year-old was wearing a hi-vis vest and carrying a backpack when he removed eight slabs from a van in Botany in May.

He then told Leanne Mafoa to drive quickly after police attempted to pull them over before running away and throwing the backpack "some distance," the NSW Supreme Court was told on Thursday.

Officers gave chase on foot and arrested him not long after.

The duo did not have any personal identification or mobile phones with them, which showed knowledge of the crime, prosecutor David Laird said.

The bag contained bricks of a completely "neutral substance," with no traceable element of drugs, the court was told.

Australian Border Force officers found more than half a tonne of cocaine hidden in a consignment of toolboxes which arrived in Sydney days earlier. The drugs had an estimated street value of almost $155 million.

The Crown submits Hopoate was "trusted" with the significant amount of illicit substance by criminals still unknown to authorities.

The son of former Manly winger John Hopoate and brother of Canterbury star Will, both of whom submitted court documents on behalf of his bail application, was already on bail for an unrelated matter when he committed the alleged offence.

"It's not a good look if I can be blunt about it," Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said.

Hopoate still faces sentencing in July for three counts of common assault, two of stalking or intimidation with intent to cause fear of physical harm, one charge of mid-range drink driving, and driving on a suspended licence.

His barrister Greg James QC argued the new drugs charge he faces - supplying a large commercial quantity of cocaine - would be hard to prosecute under the NSW Drug Misuse and Trafficking Act given he was not found in possession of drugs.

"Presumably it's sought to be made out on the basis he is seeking to obtain what he believed to be drugs and that renders them in possession," Mr James said.

He questioned whether the case would stick at trial, saying this specific law did not extend as far as his charge was concerned.

"If there was a trace left in the blocks this (bail application) would all be over," Justice Fullerton said.

Mr James said his client would have to wait more than 18 months for his trial to be heard, and nominated an electronic bracelet could help compliance with bail conditions.

But the prosecutor said the defence submission was a "novel assertion".

"The applicant went to the truck in circumstances where it's demonstrably obvious that he believed there was a prohibited drug inside that truck," Mr Laird said.

His co-accused Mafoa was granted bail ahead of Hopoate on Thursday.

Despite her attempts to drive away, Justice Fullerton said it needed to be proven that she knew Hopoate was allegedly collecting drugs.

Justice Fullerton will determine Hopoate's bail application on Friday.

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