Alleged Newcastle drug syndicate director Nga White has bail varied to reduce $100,000 surety

SEIZURE: Police dismantle a cannabis grow house in the old Churchill's building on Steel Street Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
SEIZURE: Police dismantle a cannabis grow house in the old Churchill's building on Steel Street Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

THE alleged director of a Newcastle drug syndicate will only have to raise $50,000 in order to be released from jail, with a magistrate ruling on Wednesday that the cash and a GPS monitoring bracelet were enough to mitigate the considerable risk that she would flee the jurisdiction. 

The Newcastle Herald revealed on Tuesday that despite being granted bail on October 27, nail salon owner and alleged drug ring director Nga White, 44, had been languishing in Silverwater Women’s Correctional Centre, unable to come up with the $100,000 cash surety that was the fundamental piece of a substantial bail application. Police allege Ms White was the leader of a group comprising of predominantly Vietnamese men who laundered money and cultivated large quantities of cannabis while living in Australia illegally.

She was arrested last month and charged with knowingly directing a criminal group after police raided a warehouse on Steel Street and allegedly unearthed more than 300 cannabis plants. 

Since then, Ms White has been charged with four additional offences, including two counts of supplying a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug and cultivating a commercial quantity of a prohibited drug. 

On Wednesday, her barrister William Hussey sought a bail variation; a reduction in the cash surety from $100,000 to $50,000, which combined with the condition she be fitted for a GPS monitoring bracelet, which would cost Ms White an additional $28,000, would be enough to alleviate any concerns she was a flight risk.

However, police prosecutor Sergeant Maree Maynard opposed the variation, telling Mr Stone it was clear the $100,000 surety was an integral part of the original bail due to the risk of Ms White disappearing. 

“None of her circumstances have changed since the original bail application,” Ms Maynard said.

“The only thing that has changed is she has been charged with more serious offences.”

But Mr Stone allowed the bail variation, saying the combination of the cash, the GPS bracelet and the fact she had surrendered her passport reduced the risk that Ms White would flee. 

The court had heard an alternative condition to the $100,000 surety was that Ms White mortgage some real estate and then forfeit $200,000. 

But meeting that condition had become problematic, the court heard, because since Ms White’s arrest the NSW Crime Commission had seized all of her properties. 

Mr Hussey said Ms White intended to dispute that those properties were the proceeds of crime. 

SEIZURE: Police dismantle a cannabis grow house in the old Churchill's building on Steel Street Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers

SEIZURE: Police dismantle a cannabis grow house in the old Churchill's building on Steel Street Newcastle. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers