How gangster Hamzy beat drug case but lost his life
Before he was killed in a hail of bullets, Mejid Hamzy dodged a legal bullet that could have put him in jail - and out of the sights of the shooter.
The older brother of crime boss Bassam Hamzy was assassinated outside his Condell Park home on Monday.
In February 2019, the 44-year-old was on top of the world after several legal technicalities were decided in his favour and a case against him - where prosecutors accused him of importing almost 6kg of methamphetamine to Australia from the US - collapsed.
The irony was that if Hamzy had been found guilty, he would likely still be alive because he would have been in jail and much less likely to be shot.
Prosecutors alleged that, in 2012, Hamzy and another man, Gianmarco Romolo, smuggled 5939g of methamphetamine into Australia by having it sent from the US using delivery service FedEx.
Both men were accused of using a fake name and email address to contact FedEx, inquiring about the status of the package, which arrived in Australia on October 20, 2012, court documents said.
Prosecutors presented CCTV footage of both men at Sydney internet cafes where they were alleged to have accessed fake email accounts to correspond with FedEx about the package.
On October 26, police raided Romolo's house and found a receipt from Melt Chocolate Bar - a cafe owned by Hamzy - that had details written on it that linked him to the fake email account.
Both men were charged and were set to face court together in a joint trial.
The first stroke of luck for Hamzy came early in the case when Romolo applied for and obtained a separate hearing.
The next came on November 16, 2017. After a lengthy trial, the District Court judge hearing Hamzy's case discharged the jury after it failed to reach a unanimous verdict on whether he was guilty or not of importing a commercial quantity of border-controlled drugs.
Romolo was found guilty and was sentenced to a maximum 11 years and 6 months in jail.
He appealed soon after, which would have a major impact on Hamzy's case.
Romolo's one ground of appeal was that there was not enough evidence to prove he and Hamzy had taken steps to retrieve the drug shipment from FedEx.
After a painstaking analysis of the evidence, a three-judge panel in the NSW Supreme Court's Court of Criminal Appeal agreed and quashed Romolo's conviction.
The judges told the court the evidence left open the possibility that Romolo and Hamzy communicated only with third parties about the drug shipment, and not with each other.
And, because the prosecution's indictment was written to say Romolo and Hamzy committed the offence together, the court found the conviction could not stand.
The judges then ruled Romolo could not be retried on a new indictment because that would be in conflict with rules dictated by the High Court of Australia.
This left no option other than for Romolo to be acquitted.
One year later, Hamzy experienced similar good fortune.
Given the result in Romolo's case, prosecutors attempted to amend their case and still prosecute Hamzy on the basis he imported the drugs with "unknown others".
Hamzy's lawyer Phillip Greene argued that to retry Hamzy on an amended indictment amounted to an abuse of process that would cause "impermissible unfairness" and argued for the case to be discontinued.
On February 4, 2019, Judge Peter Whitford agreed and ruled that the case could not continue.
"In other words, no matter how a charge is formulated, it is inappropriately oppressive, and inconsistent with the due administration of justice to resubject an accused to all the burdens of fighting a second criminal trial in order to circumvent the demonstrated flawed decision making at the heart of the Crown's first agitation of the case," Judge Whitford told the court.
Hamzy was hoping it would be a similar story when he faced court on November 4 on steroid possession charges.
He was charged after police allege they found anabolic steroids at his Condell Park home during a raid earlier this year.
However, his lawyer, Ahmed Dib: said: Similarly with Mr Hamzy's previous case, he was going to plead not guilty to these offences.
"There was medical documentation that we were going to produce which would have proven his innocence," Mr Dib said.
It was a triumphant moment for Hamzy. But he might have lived longer had he been in jail.
He was shot dead on his driveway 623 days later.
Originally published as How gangster Hamzy beat drug case but lost his life