Dealers' appeals on sentences dismissed
A Woodville dominatrix and her partner, who were described as a methamphetamine "queen" and "king" after running a multimillion-dollar methamphetamine business, have had appeals against their sentences dismissed.
Jolene Rose and her boyfriend, Sean Christiaan Murray, appealed against their sentences at the Court of Appeal at Auckland earlier this year.
After a jury trial last year, Rose was sentenced to 20 years' imprisonment with a minimum term of 10 years, and had to forfeit more than $760,000 in cash she had hidden around her Woodville property.
At the trial at the High Court in Palmerston North, she was found guilty of 22 charges including supplying methamphetamine, possessing the drug for supply and 20 firearms-related charges.
In the High Court at Wellington last year, Justice Lowell Goddard said Rose kept a loaded revolver beside her bed in the hood of a black satin cloak that completed her dominatrix outfits.
A pen pistol was close at hand in the hobby shed, where she crafted wooden boards with catchy phrases to sell at car-boot sales.
The weapons were among the firearms and stun guns police found when they raided the cottage on March 20, 2012.
She had a security system monitor in her bedroom, and a buzzer sounded in the room when a light beam across the driveway was tripped.
Murray was sentenced to eight years' imprisonment after pleading guilty to 23 firearms and drugs-related charges.
During the trial, the pair were described as the methamphetamine "king and queen" by Crown prosecutor Daniel Flinn.
In the appeal judgment, Justices Patrick Keane, Lynton Stevens and Pamela Andrews said the appeal hinged on the pair's lawyers proving the judge at the trial - Justice Lowell Goddard - had caused a miscarriage of justice by not holding a disputed facts hearing before sentencing.
That meant she sentenced the pair on inferences of what they had supplied, rather than having exact amounts - something Rose and Murray's lawyers said was unjust.
But the Court of Appeal judges found the sentencing was fair.
The judge was entitled to assume that the money found on the property was the result of methamphetamine sales, and that almost all of it was profit.
There was no record among any "tick lists" - lists of people who owed her money - that any money was owed to methamphetamine suppliers.
"The judge's finding that over the four years Ms Rose must have supplied 8.44 kilograms of methamphetamine called, we accept, for a series of inferences relying on the cash found," the appeal ruling said.
"But on this appeal, Ms Rose herself concedes that she must at least have supplied 1.6 to 2kg of methamphetamine.
"And, even if the judge had chosen to express her scale finding more tentatively, there is no plausible basis on which she needed to reduce it much below her 8.44kg estimate."
That meant the judge's starting point for sentencing of 18 years' imprisonment was right, the appeal ruling said.
The 20-year sentence was based on uplifts for previous convictions, which was also the right move.
The sentencing judge was also correct in coming to Murray's starting point, and in the discount she gave him for having mental health issues.
Murray's lawyer Paul Surridge had submitted his client's 15 per cent discount for illness was too small. Murray had a history of mental health problems following a brain injury in 2008.
Since then, he had suffered cognitive slowness, poor concentration and impaired judgment.
But in 2009 he was described as having "essentially intact" judgment and insight.
The sentencing judge had found his condition had been "significantly exacerbated" by his decision to consume drugs, which is why he got a 15 per cent discount instead of a greater one - a decision the appeal judges said was right.