Grief puts drug charges on hold

DRUG charges against four people have been put on hold because they are grieving over the tragic death of a toddler in a car smash near Willow Tree last week.

Mark Wortley, the alleged ringleader of the drug ring supplying ice across Gunnedah, did not appear in Tamworth Local Court when his case was mentioned yesterday morning, after the court was told he was in transit between prisons.

Solicitor Rae Parker said Wortley, who was being housed in a correctional centre on the South Coast, was en-route to Tamworth.

“He’s on escort back to our territory here,” she told the court.

“There was a death of a small child in the family last week in very tragic circumstances.”

Ms Parker said the 32-year-old, who is charged with 13 drug-related offences, had lodged an application for legal aid but the defence needed eight weeks to consider the brief of evidence.

Wortley made no application for bail and it was formally refused.

He’s expected to be escorted by Corrective Services to the funeral of his partner’s grand-daughter, two-year-old Jannali, who was killed in a crash on the New England Highway at Willow Tree on Monday, August 17.

Tori Shipman who was behind the wheel of the Nissan Pulsar when it left the road and crashed down an embankment is holding a bedside vigil for her 11-month-old son, Atticus, who remains in a serious but stable condition in John Hunter Children’s Hospital.

Ms Shipman’s mother, Helen Eason, did not appear in Tamworth court yesterday morning but her 14 charges were adjourned as the family grieves.

“There is a letter on the file,” Magistrate Holmes said.

“Ms Eason is connected to that tragedy.”

Nikita Wortley and Howard Adams were also adjourned and remain on bail.

The lead investigator of Strike Force Codes, the police operation set up to investigate the alleged supply of ice in Gunnedah, was present in court yesterday for the brief proceedings which have now been adjourned to October.