Luke Barker holds an Indictable Crime Certificate and is a member of VLA’s Criminal Trial Preferred Barrister List. Since approximately 2007 Luke has developed a practice involving mostly complex and lengthy criminal trials. These are often drug trials (Commonwealth and State); fraud trials; and complex crimes against the person. These include:
DPP v. Brian David Zerna
Supreme Court – Justice Bell
Mr Zerna was charged with conspiracy to manufacture a large commercial quantity of methylamphetamine. Mr Zerna was convicted after an eight week Trial involving complex legal arguments. That conviction was overturned on appeal on the basis of submissions I made during the Trial.
Rulings:  VSC 578
Sentence:  VSC 330
DPP v. Akl Hammoud
Supreme Court – Justice Curtain
Mr Hammoud was charged with Horty and Milad Mokbel and others with trafficking phenyl-2-propanone in a commercial quantity.
The trial resolved and Mr Hammoud was given a wholly suspended sentence.
DPP v. Leslie Ray
County Court – Judge Thornton
Mr Ray was charged with 10 charges of intentionally dealing with the proceeds of crime contrary to section 193 of the Crimes Act 1958. The amount alleged was in excess of $223,000.
The trial resolved and Mr Ray pleaded guilty to recklessly dealing with proceeds of crime totalling $170,000. He was given a wholly suspended sentence.
DPP v. Georgina Matta
County Court – Judge Hannan
Ms Matta was charged with trafficking steroids in a commercial quantity and methylamphetamine and ketamine simpliciter. The investigation was complex and included 2000+ pages of depositions and 80+ hours of product from optical/listening devices.
The trial (scheduled to run 6-8 weeks) resolved and Ms Matta pleaded guilty to trafficking steroids simpliciter. She was sentenced to time served and was released on the day of the plea.
DPP v. Huvasi Cayli
County Court (Mildura) – Judge Bourke
Mr Cayli was charged with numerous others on a 20-count Presentment with trafficking amphetamines. The various co-accused all pleaded guilty. Mr Cayli was ‘last man standing’.
Mr Cayli was acquitted.
DPP v. Frank Bartolo
County Court – Judge Allen.
Mr Bartolo was one of more than 30 charged with fraudulently importing, re-birthing and registering cars. Specifically, Mr Bartolo was alleged to have engaged in misconduct in public office by fraudulently registering 14 cars in his employment with VicRoads.
The depositions in this matter totalled more than 41,000 pages and this increased to close to 100,000 pages.
After 16 weeks of trial, the Crown accepted an offer to plead guilty to one charge on the basis that Mr Bartolo did not read a VIN plate sufficiently carefully. He was sentenced ex tempore to a 6 month ‘bond’.
DPP v. Foula Pantazis
(Operation Magnum – ‘Edwena’ phase)
Supreme Court – Justice Whelan
Mrs Pantazis faced a charge of attempting to pervert the course of public justice by assisting Tony Mokbel to flee the Australian justice system to Greece. The Trial was adjourned after several days as a consequence of new evidence being provided.
DPP v. Nola Preece
(Operations Falsie and Hotrod)
County Court – Judge Montgomery and Court of Appeal
Ms Preece was charged with Joseph Marijancevic and others in relation to conspiracy to traffick (manufacture) methylamphetamine. This was a complex investigation involving many thousands of pages of depositions and hours of product from optical/listening devices. The case was to gain some notoriety as the ‘affidavit/search warrant’ case.
The trial judge refused to permit evidence of searches (and other evidence consequential upon those searches) where search warrants had been obtained without affidavits in support having been duly sworn. His Honour’s decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal on the Crown’s interlocutory appeal (where I was the only Trial counsel to appear without a leader):  VSCA 355.
After 43 days of trial (not including the Court of Appeal phase) the Crown discontinued the proceeding against Ms Preece.
DPP v. Dejai Allen
County Court – Judge Coish
Mr Allen was one of 8 people charged with conspiracy to defraud Telstra and divers other financial institutions. This was allegedly done by a complex scheme of ‘identity theft’. Mr Allen was said to have been the maker of forged documents. The total amount obtained was $864,390.
On day 3 of a scheduled eight week trial, the Crown discontinued proceedings against Mr Allen.
DPP v. Annette Harris
County Court (Mildura) – Judge Pilgrim
Ms Harris was charged with her husband with systematically defrauding their employer.
This was a complex matter involving many transactions.
Overtures were made to the Crown that they could not establish dishonesty on Ms Harris’ behalf. Those overtures were predicated upon a thorough knowledge of the minutiae of the evidence. Ultimately, the Crown agreed and the trial was discontinued.
DPP v. Laurence Khoshaba
County Court – Judge Hampel
Mr Khoshaba was one of three young men charged with six armed robberies on ‘pokies’ venues.
This was a complex matter involving many volumes of Depositions; CCTV; telephone intercepts and listening devices. The Crown relied heavily on tendency evidence given the similarity between the armed robberies.
The co-accused Younan was sentenced to 11 years with a minimum of 8 years – he pleaded guilty to 4 of the armed robberies. The other co-accused Polos was sentenced to 10 years with a minimum of 7 years for 3 of the armed robberies.
By being last to resolve, I persuaded the Crown to accept a plea to one armed robbery for Mr Khoshaba. He was sentenced to 4 years and 3 months with a minimum of 2 years and 9 months.
DPP v. Zoltan Weisenburger
County Court – Judge Douglas
Mr Weisenberger was charged with more than 100 charges of obtaining property/financial advantage by deception. This was allegedly done by a complex scheme of ‘identity theft’ over a period of more than 15 years (July 1997 to May 2013).
An Indictment was filed containing 25 Charges. That was resolved to a Plea Indictment containing 20 Charges (11 x obtaining a financial advantage by deception and 9 x attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception. Those Charges covered 2004 to 2011. Importantly, the negotiations concerning resulted in many with the highest quantum being dropped.
Mr Weisenberger received 25 months imprisonment with a minimum of 15 months. 407 days were reckoned as pre-sentence detention.
The Queen v. Hanh Thi Vo
County Court – Judge Allen
DPP v. Van Cac Tran
County Court – Judge Allen
This was an extremely complex matter with 30+ volumes of material (my chronology ran to 150+ pages).
There were 11 charges on the Indictment. Mr Tran offered to plead guilty to all matters (mostly 500g heroin/ice dealings; together with cultivation). That was made on the basis that the prosecution withdraw the first (and, by far biggest) charge of trafficking (transporting from Sydney to Melbourne) of 5.9kg of ice in a secret compartment in the fuel tank of one of his fleet of cars.
The prosecution accepted that offer and the plea is listed for June 2015.
The Queen v. Gurchetan Rishi
County Court – Judge Howard
Mr Rishi was charged with trafficking a commercial quantity of ephedrine. The total weight of the ephedrine was said to exceed 20 kg pure.
An offer was made to the Crown that Mr Rishi would plead guilty to one charge of assisting an offender (Arvinder Singh) who had trafficked ephedrine simpliciter. Ultimately, this offer was accepted.
His Honour sentenced Mr Rishi to 504 days imprisonment and reckoned those 504 days as served. Mr Rishi was collected from the Court by Immigration officials for immediate repatriation to India.