Police criticised in drug case

The decision to charge a Bunnythorpe man with dealing methamphetamine has been criticised by the man's lawyer, who says there were "inadequacies" in the police investigation.

Meanwhile, the Crown says the case is one that would have been resolved earlier under new rules that came into effect this year.

Paul Raymond Jensen, 59, was sentenced yesterday in the Palmerston North District Court to two months' home detention on one charge of possessing methamphetamine, or P.

He was originally charged with possessing the drug for supply - an offence with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment - after police raided the house he was staying at on December 31.

The charge was downgraded on the day Jensen's trial was due to begin and he admitted the lesser offence, something he was long prepared to do.

Defence lawyer Peter Coles said he had "a number of concerns" about the prosecution.

Jensen was said to have been in possession of 10 grams of P, which meant the onus would be on him to prove he was not a dealer.

However, Mr Coles said the drug was not properly analysed and comments made by Jensen to police - that the drug had a "diminished effect" on him - suggested it wasn't pure.

Other items said to show dealing, including scales, had not been photographed where they were found and the keeping of exhibit records was poor. In his police interview, Jensen wasn't even asked if the associated items were his, Mr Coles said.

"The police examination of the scene and the police file were, frankly, inadequate."

Jensen was a heavy user of P and paid for the drug by doing mechanical and engineering repairs, using an insurance payout and selling valuable vintage cars.

These explanations weren't confirmed and no search of Jensen's Bunnythorpe house was carried out.

The case came to court in January and in August Judge Gerard Lynch suggested the evidence be looked at by the prosecution. But it was still ready to run at a jury trial in October until falling over on the first morning.

"I have a concern that the matter went on for an extended period of time," Mr Coles said.

After the sentencing, Crown prosecutor Ben Vanderkolk said this type of case would probably be sorted earlier under new rules that require the Crown and defence to work together to discuss and sort out issues.

Judge Lynch told the court Jensen's rehabilitative needs would be met through a home detention sentence, and residential care was a possibility.

The judge warned him he wouldn't get the same chance again.

Manawatu Standard