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'Some degree of retail' in woman's alleged drug trafficking: court

By Blake Foden

A mother-of-two seems to have been part of a drug trafficking operation that involved "some degree of retail", a magistrate has said in the wake of a raid on the woman's home in Canberra's inner north.

ACT Policing officers executed a search warrant at Sarah Louise Steel's unit in Turner last Sunday, finding an array of substances suspected to be methamphetamine, heroin, GHB, LSD and cannabis.

The drugs are said to have been kept inside items that included a water bottle, balloons and a vitamin container.

No one was home at the time of the raid and Steel was allegedly "argumentative" with police when they contacted her and asked to come to the unit.

Officers subsequently tracked down the 25-year-old woman in Chisholm on Friday afternoon, when she was arrested and charged with five offences.

These were two counts each of drug trafficking and possession of a prohibited substance, as well as a single charge of possessing a prohibited weapon.

Steel was granted bail on Saturday morning by the ACT Magistrates Court, which heard the weapon in question was a black extendable baton.

Dressed in red after a night in custody, Steel did not enter pleas as she appeared in court from a remote room.

Prosecutor Bwalya Chifuntwe unsuccessfully opposed Steel's release, arguing she was likely to reoffend if granted bail.

Mr Chifuntwe told the court the range of substances found at the 25-year-old's home was concerning.

But Legal Aid duty lawyer Stephanie Corish argued concerns about reoffending were "simply not borne out" on the material before the court, noting Steel had "almost no criminal history".

"Your honour has nothing to suggest she's not going to be able to comply with bail conditions," she told magistrate Glenn Theakston.

Ms Corish also indicated Steel had two young children, whose father was "in custody and looking at being deported".

Mr Theakston ultimately decided to release Steel, warning the 25-year-old she was highly unlikely to get bail again if she was rearrested and charged with another serious offence.

As he did so, the magistrate said police documents tendered to the court did not make clear what quantities of the various substances had been found at Steel's home.

He also said there were question marks about exactly what they were, with only one having been presumptively tested before they were all sent to an analytical laboratory.

Steel is due back in court on June 6.

The ACT Magistrates Court, where Sarah Steel was granted bail. Picture: Karleen Minney
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Dive Deeper:
Serial conman Peter Foster released on bail after $2 million bitcoin fraud charges
Peter Foster will be released from Brisbane's Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre later today after being granted bail.
Gang flogged cannabis sweets disguised as Smarties and Nerds through Snapchat
Reo Mangal, Olivia Butler and Ceroan Mangal, from London, have all been sentenced after a series of raids uncovered "overwhelming…
Hunter Valley Police allege seized cocaine 'destined' for the Scone Cup
NSW Police have arrested a pub licensee as part of investigations into alleged drug supply activity ahead of a major…
Ex-police constable facing jail over string of racist WhatsApp messages
Former prison officer James Watts admitted sending 10 grossly offensive to ex-colleagues who worked at a Warwickshire jail.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Men charged over alleged drug supply at Scone
Three men have been charged with drug-related offences following an extensive investigation in the Hunter.
Man to appear in court on firearms offences following Belfast City Centre incident
It follows an incident in Belfast City Centre on Thursday, May 12
Get all your news in one place