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NSW Labor calls for more scrutiny of ankle monitors after Mostafa Baluch escape

Labor has called for more scrutiny of ankle monitors in NSW after it emerged authorities have little insight into who makes the devices or what their standards are.

It comes as a government bail taskforce is probing how alleged drug lord Mostafa Baluch was able to take off his ankle monitor and escape from custody.

Labor’s shadow attorney-general Michael Daley said the public deserved to know defendants were properly monitored if allowed out on bail.

COOLANGATTA, AUSTRALIA - NewsWire Photos NOVEMBER 11, 2021: Alleged drug smuggler Mostafa Baluch seen boarding a NSW Police plane at Coolangatta Airport as he's extradited to NSW from Queensland after being arrested on the NSW/QLD border following a frantic two week manhunt. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled
Camera IconMostafa Baluch is facing serious drug charges. NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled Credit: NCA NewsWire

“I’m gobsmacked that the government and the courts rely on the effectiveness of electronic monitoring devices when they know absolutely nothing whatsoever about the devices or the people who monitor and supervise them,” he told NCA NewsWire.

“At the very least a detailed examination needs to be done about crucial aspects of these devices so the community can have the confidence if a potentially dangerous person is being supervised electronically.”

A budget estimates hearing was told this week there is little oversight of the production of ankle monitors for defendants on bail.

Labor MP Michael Daley said the standards for ankle monitors needed to be examined. Wolter Peeters
Camera IconLabor MP Michael Daley said the standards for ankle monitors needed to be examined. Wolter Peeters Credit: Channel 9

Asked by Labor MP Adam Searle if the government would review the standards for ankle bracelets, Attorney-General Mark Speakman said: “This is not something that the state organises, it is something that accused proffer.

“The issue is that at the end of the day an electronic monitoring device can be dismantled.

“They are not foolproof.”

Mr Speakman said he had referred Mr Baluch’s case to a group of officials scrutinising bail rules in NSW.

The millionaire restaurateur was discovered hiding in a truck crossing the Queensland border last November.

Camera IconNSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman said he had asked the Bail Act monitoring group to look at Mr Baluch’s case. NCA NewsWire / Christian Gilles Credit: News Corp Australia

He was extradited back to Sydney and is facing serious drug charges that he allegedly financed a 900kg shipment of cocaine into Australia.

The Bail Act monitoring group includes representatives from the Department of Communities and Justice, the courts, the police, and several other bodies.

Mr Speakman said he had referred five other cases to the taskforce as well.

“I referred about half a dozen cases to it and asked it to consider what, if any, reforms to the Bail Act might be required or appropriate,” he said.

He said the group would consider “the extent to which a court should rely upon the offering of a privately run electronic monitoring device as a mitigating factor to mitigate the risk to grant bail”.

Mr Speakman said Mr Baluch’s case would likely make courts more hesitant to allow ankle bracelets as a mitigating factor in future bail applications.

The committee was told there were nearly 100 cases over the past two years where ankle monitors were used as a condition of bail.

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