The committal hearing of a Latrobe Valley pharmacist accused of trafficking prescription and illegal drugs has been adjourned after Magistrate Tim Walsh requested time to deliberate over the case.
Daniel Soong, 39, of Moe was accused of a series of drug-related offences in March 2015 following two raids on pharmacies and a residence in Moe as part the Morwell Divisional Tasking Unit’s House Guests operation.
Mr Soong is accused of tracking drugs of dependence, including APO Morphine, MS Contin, OcyContin, Endone, Psyeptone, Dexamphetamine, Kalma, Diazepam, Kapinol, Sildenafil, Xanax, Stilnox and pseudoephedrine cold and flu tablets, between May 1, 2014 and February 4, 2015.
He was also charged with possessing illegal drugs including cannabis and cocaine and possessing and using methylamphetamine, known as ice, prior to his arrest almost three years ago.
The offences allegedly took place at properties in Moe, Glen Waverly and Paradise Beach.
Mr Soong’s wife, Sue Soong, who was also in court this week, faces drug possession charges.
The Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court heard statements from two witnesses on Monday about their interactions with Mr Soong in the lead-up to his arrest in February 2015.
Mr Soong remains on bail while the hearing continues.
The first witness, who cannot be named due to a court order, said the accused would provide prescription medication from time-to-time to use as part of a “party process” when the pair would get together.
Drugs including Xanax were provided by Mr Soong, the witness told the court, who said they were more or less used to “go to sleep”.
The court heard how the prescription drug Stilnox, described as a “sleeper” drug by the witness, was also provided by Mr Soong to the witness “maybe once or twice”.
The defence argued the prescription drugs were a “gift” and said no transaction between the witness and Mr Soong of any kind ever took place.
During the 2015 Australia Day weekend, the witness revealed he asked Mr Soong to provide “pippoes”, known as an ice pipe, “so that someone could use ice” at a party at a coastal Gippsland property, the court heard.
The witness said while “[we] shared ice at the party”, he could not recall if any prescription medication was brought to the property.
The court also heard how the first witness provided $25,000 to Mr Soong in bank transactions of $10,000 and $15,000 to help with cashflow problems Mr Soong was experiencing with his pharmacy at the time.
The understanding was that Mr Soong would reimburse the witness with monthly repayments of $2000.
Payment was made in one lump sum, the witness told the court on Monday.
Mr Soong is also charged with multiple prescription medication storage offences, failure to keep required records, failure to report lost or stolen poisons or controlled substances and possession of fireworks.
He is also charged with possessing a set of nunchakus.
The second witness, whose identity was also suppressed by the court, described himself as a “pretty regular” user of ice and said his memory was terrible following significant work-related head injuries.
Mr Soong’s defence expressed their disappointment to Magistrate Walsh that, should the case go to trial, it would mean a delay of up to three-and-a-half years before going to trial, since Mr Soong was charged in 2015.
The defence said Mr Soong had received significant public condemnation following his first court appearance in 2015 through local media reports.
The hearing will return to the Latrobe Valley Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, December 21.