Court to appoint lawyer for self-representing dealer

A DRUG dealer who avoided jail time after telling police all about his marijuana operation is back in court, with the Attorney-General appealing the dealer's lenient sentence.

Andrew Noel Hensleigh Norris, 52, was sentenced to four years jail, immediately suspended, after he pleaded guilty in Maroochydore District Court last year to growing and trafficking marijuana at his Conondale property.

The Attorney-General's appeal argues this sentence was manifestly inadequate and wrongly took into account the prospect of deportation when determining a penalty.

It is a legal rule that has not been decided.

"Different cases point in different directions around the country on that point,” Justice Hugh Fraser said.

Norris appeared in Queensland Court of Appeal yesterday representing himself, telling the court he was not able to afford any legal representation.

He said he was rejected for legal aid, despite the complexity of the appeal.

The court said there was a significant legal question to be answered by the appeal, and it was one Norris could not be fairly expected to be able to argue given its complex nature.

Justice Fraser said it would be "practically impossible”.

Therefore, the court took the unusual step of suggesting it appoint a legal representative for Norris, which can be done if the case is a question of public interest.

When Justice Fraser asked, Norris agreed he would appreciate legal help.

Appearing for the Attorney-General, barrister Michael Byrne agreed it was vital for Norris to have representation, saying he had not realised Norris was self-represented and suggesting a pro-bono scheme might be accessed.

Police found 130 plants, a hydroponic growing set-up and a small grow house during a search of Norris's property.

Norris told police he had been selling the drug to a group of three or four people for the previous four years. Had he not made this frank confession, the Crown would not have been able to successfully charge Norris with trafficking.

The case was adjourned in order to find adequate legal representation for Norris.


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