Bail granted in Christchurch synthetics case

Police terminated Operation Ellerslie, a two-month long investigation targeting offenders...
Police terminated Operation Ellerslie, a two-month long investigation targeting offenders allegedly supplying synthetic cannabis across Canterbury. Photo: Supplied
Electronically monitored bail has been granted for a 28-year-old Christchurch man accused of being part of a group selling "synthetic cannabinoid".

Xu Zhao has been held in custody since police conducted a series of raids across Christchurch on November 4, executing warrants in the suburbs of Sockburn, Papanui, Avonhead, Riccarton and Somerfield.

Five people were arrested and police said they seized more than 3kg of synthetic cannabis, and $40,000 cash.

Zhao, a mechanic from Papanui, appeared before Judge Brian Callaghan in the Christchurch District Court to make his bail application. Reporting of the details of bail hearings is restricted under the Bail Act.

Nick Rout appeared as defence counsel for Zhao and Aaron Harvey for the Crown.

A Mandarin interpreter was in court to explain the bail conditions to Zhao, who denies charges of participating with four other people in an organised criminal group that was selling class C controlled drugs, possession and sale of "synthetic cannabinoid", failing to assist a detective carrying out a search under the Search and Surveillance Act, and breaching the Covid-19 rules by travelling to sell synthetic cannabis.

Judge Callaghan was told that the Crown no longer opposed Zhao being released on electronically monitored bail and he then allowed his release on the standard conditions. He ordered that Zhao's passport be surrendered to the court and this was done.

He remanded Zhao for a Crown case review hearing on January 27.

Others arrested have been remanded to the same date in January, and in February.

- By David Clarkson

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