Judge 'surprised' at custody request

A Dunedin judge has granted bail for a Black Power member facing drugs charges, saying he is "surprised" at police attempts to keep him in custody.

Albert Epere appeared in the Dunedin District Court today on drugs charges laid by police more than a month ago, and a driving charge of knowingly permitting a motor vehicle to be used for an offence.

Judge Michael Crosbie remanded him on bail without plea, saying a police application to remand him in custody was "surprising''.

Epere was charged jointly with another Black Power member for possessing cannabis for supply, but denied he was involved.

Police opposed bail on the grounds Epere could interfere with a witness by communicating with the other man charged on the drugs offence.

Judge Crosbie said the risk now was no greater than it had been for the past month.

"That is a surprising submission by police.''

Epere had a significant criminal history but his last serious offence was in 2002, when he was jailed for cannabis-related offending.

"The concerns need to based on fact and reality,'' Judge Crosbie said.

Epere is to reappear in court on January 22.  

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