Bail denied after ankle monitor removed before arrest

A $2 million promise to attend court and an offer to wear an electronic monitoring anklet have not been enough to secure an accused drug importer's release from jail.

Jovanco Kitanovski was already on bail for other charges when police found him scuba diving outside his curfew in the middle of the night near a Sydney port in February 2020, allegedly trying to retrieve tyres attached to a merchant vessel and believed to contain border controlled drugs.

The monitoring device the 48-year-old was supposed to be wearing remained at the Yowie Bay address he was meant to be residing at.

"Clearly he’s someone who is able to remove it and knows how to do that," crown prosecutor Nick Roucek told the NSW Supreme Court on Tuesday.

There was no suggestion Kitanovski helped accused drug lord Mostafa Baluch remove his monitoring device before sparking a "classic manhunt" in October 2021, but he was driving the truck Baluch was found hiding in at the NSW-Queensland border two weeks later.

He received a 10-month intensive corrections order after spending almost 12 months in custody and pleading guilty to doing an act intending to pervert the course of justice in relation to that.

Kitanovski is currently accused of conspiring to import a commercial quantity of a border controlled drug, but if he fights the charge it is unlikely he would face trial until at least July, and could be waiting until 2025.

His barrister Ben Barrack said the delay was inevitable and unusual, and one of several factors that should cause Kitanovski's release as he argued for bail.

There is also a real possibility Kitanovski will be acquitted, pending admissibility challenges to evidence gathered using the ANOM devices alleged criminals once thought were secure encrypted communications but which were actually monitored by the AFP and US FBI, Mr Barrack said.

It's alleged Kitanovski used the platform to give directions and help plan drug importations.

Justice Robertson Wright said issues with evidence gathered through the ANOM sting will be fiercely contested but the bail application in his court was neither the time nor place.

"I am not in a position to reach a definitive view or perhaps even a tentative view of the admissibility or otherwise of that evidence," he said on Tuesday, denying Kitanovski's release on bail.

The proposed conditions including electronic monitoring and a surety exceeding $2 million were not enough to mitigate the risks of his release, the judge ruled.

Kitanovski is due to be arraigned in the district court along with co-accused Robert Damcevski and Mende Trajkoski on Friday. 

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