26/02/2019 - 16:11

Market garden case finally ends

26/02/2019 - 16:11

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Five years after being the subject of high profile police raids and multiple charges, the legal saga facing three Perth business people is over due to failures of the prosecution deemed “totally unacceptable” by the judge.

Market garden case finally ends
Minh Canh Le exits court with his legal team and supporters.

Five years after being the subject of high profile police raids and multiple charges, the legal saga facing three Perth business people is over due to failures of the prosecution deemed “totally unacceptable” by the judge.

Brothers Michael Le and Minh Canh Le were charged with money laundering and harbouring unlawful non-citizens in 2014 after their property was raided by WA and Federal police, the Australian Border Force and other government agencies.

Bookkeeper Lien Bich Thi Nguyen was charged with laundering money to cover up illegal workers employed on the farm.

The first trial for related charges was discontinued in May 2018 by judge Stephen Scott after seven months because the Commonwealth failed to disclose evidence to the defence, extending the trial by over four months.

Late last week, the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions filed an application to discontinue the remaining charges for the same reason.

District Court chief judge Kevin Sleight accepted the application today.

He said the way the trial was conducted by the prosecution caused harm to the accused and wasted public resources.

Judge Sleight said the prosecution had acted in a cavalier manner.

He wrote in his reasons for the decision that the Crown failed to present all the evidence and repeatedly mislead the court into believing all disclosures had been submitted which was due to gross negligence.

Defendant Minh Canh Le said the case had caused him emotional damage and he was happy it was over.

His brother and co-accused Michael Le said the long court case has been very hard on him and his family and had been very emotional.

“What my father set up 35 years ago and handed down to me is ruined, there is nothing I can do to fix that,” he said.

“The least the Commonwealth prosecution and the police can do is give an apology.”

Minh Canh Le was represented by lawyer Denis O'Haire from Forbes Kirby Lawyers & Consultants.

Mr O'Haire said today judges Scott and Sleight stood strongly to protect the dignity of the courts and the proper administration of justice.

“Our learned judges have made it clear that they will not tolerate the resources of the court being used by prosecutorial agencies hell-bent on conviction while ignoring their fundamental obligations of disclosure and fairness,” he said.

“If prosecuting agencies, including police and Crown prosecutors fail to take their obligations seriously, they will be held accountable by our learned judges, who remain the protectors of the judicial process.”

The Le brothers mainly grew tomatoes on their property in Carabooda and sold them to supermarket chains including Woolworths and IGA.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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