Police use phone tracking in case against torture accused
A MAN extradited to Queensland from NSW to face serious charges of kidnap and torture has applied for bail.
Justin John Kuhner, 40, from Fairfield in Sydney, remained in jail on Thursday night with his bail application part-heard before Ipswich Magistrates Court.
His defence lawyer argued that the case against him was circumstantial.
The court heard the chronology of data collected from telephone signal towers, which police will claim linked a group of phones with vehicles of interest.
Kuhner is one of five men charged in relation to the offences alleged to have been committed against Ipswich businessman Eduardus Groenewegen and his girlfriend Caroll Dufailly at Raceview in the late evening of October 25, 2019.
The court had previously heard that five people were dressed as police officers when they broke into Mr Groenewegen's house late at night.
Kuhner and four other men are jointly charged with doing acts intended to cause grievous bodily harm (as part of serious organised crime) 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; use, threaten violence when armed; two counts of extortion with intent to gain benefit with threat of detriment serious personal injury; disguising his face with intent to commit serious offence; impersonating police officers; and two counts of robbery when armed/in company/using personal violence.
Director of Public Prosecutions legal officer Andreas Galloway said the Crown opposed bail, with Magistrate Donna MacCallum spending 15 minutes reading prosecution documents detailing the case.
In answering questions posed by the magistrate, Mr Galloway said just one of the co-accused - Mark Clinton Atta-Singh, 41 - had been granted Supreme Court bail.
"So the evidence is based on these telephone transmissions?" Ms MacCallum asked.
"Yes. And photographs of an injury," Mr Galloway responded.
He said evidence involved linking the mobile phone and a ciphr (encrypted) device alleged to have been in Kuhner's possession with other mobile phones and devices held by the co-accused.
He said the phone had travelled to Sydney at the approximate time of a flight he used, and placed it with some other relevant phones following the alleged offences near Ipswich.
When asked about DNA evidence, Mr Galloway said DNA material was sent to New Zealand to be reviewed because Queensland did not have the facilities to do it.
Mr Galloway said it was the prosecution submission that the telecommunications evidence was quite strong and that it tracked Kuhner at relevant times.
Defence barrister Mitchell Cavanagh said one of the co-accused was refused bail because of evidence that included telecommunications and "police paraphernalia" that were found, along with at least one firearm.
Mr Cavanagh said it was conceded that telecommunications "quite clearly puts him in the area".
"However, there was quite a vacuum as to what offending role he is alleged to have played."
Mr Cavanagh said six ciphr phones were identified by police and tracked travelling on the same route and timing to the Queensland NSW border.
He said there had been no data since then.
However, he said that was likely a police error as data alleged to be Kuhner's device was seen in Sydney the next day.
He said Kuhner's data was linked to just one signal tower.
Ms MacCallum said allegations were that telecommunications data depicts the handsets moving at the same time as four relevant motor vehicles used at the time of the offences.
Mr Cavanagh said Kuhner would lodge substantial financial surety for bail and agreed to be under 24-hour house arrest.
Mr Galloway said there was also information of Kuhner booking in to the Ipswich Country Hotel together with one of the co-accused.
Ms MacCallum said no one had been positively identified as being a perpetrator of the crimes.
Mr Galloway said the victims had not identified anyone, and there as yet was no other forensic evidence.
She said that from the material before her there had been five people arriving at the house that night in a van.
Mr Galloway said there were two in another car.
"Were the others in the car dressed as police too," Ms MacCallum asked.
"The facts are silent as to how these people are attired," Mr Cavanagh said.
Mr Galloway said two people dressed as police left afterwards on foot, the others in the van.
Ms MacCallum said she needed to consider the application overnight.
She will give her decision Friday morning.