A judge says he is amazed at how many drug offenders have firearms they claim are for shooting wildlife.
Judge Raoul Neave raised the issue at the sentencing of Jason Richard Beckley, 42, and Raymond Donal Todd, 41, both of Ashburton, in the Christchurch District Court today.
The judge said many people caught with drugs also have firearms - for the purpose of shooting rabbits, pigeons or other wildlife, they claim.
In the case of Ashburton drugs arrests, a pistol had been found in a backpack with drugs and paraphernalia, and a knife and balaclava.
"They must have been pretty savage pigeons," Neave said.
Beckley admitted charges of possession of methamphetamine for supply, and Todd admitted charges of possession and supply of methamphetamine, cultivating cannabis and possession of it for supply, possession of GBL for supply, receiving stolen property, and unlawful possession of a pistol.
Crown prosecutor Deidre Orchard said Todd had been a commercial dealer. It was common for people at his level of dealing to be drug-users as well. Not only was he found with $9300 cash, but he also had empty point bags, used point bags, digital scales covered in a powdery residue, and a cutting agent for methamphetamine.
Orchard said Beckley had known perfectly well what Todd was doing, and was actively helping.
Defence counsel for Beckley, Paul Johnson, said that although his client had known something was going on, he did not know exactly what it was.
Defence counsel for Todd, Craig Ruane, argued that the money had been intended to purchase drugs rather than being the proceeds of drug sales.
However, the judge said that fitted in with the definition in the legislation and he still intended to confiscate the money.
Ruane said Todd had been a drug user who also sold some of the products to friends and acquaintances, rather than being a full-scale retailer.
The judge said a total of 40g of methamphetamine had been involved in the dealing, which involved it being transported from Auckland, and then apparently sold on regular trips to Christchurch. The total value was about $40,000.
Todd had been heavily involved but Beckley was a hapless figure - a friend of Todd's - who had got involved in the drugs operation.
He told Todd he did not accept his explanation about having had to the gun in his backpack because he had been shooting pigeons at a friend's place. "Its presence in conjunction with drug paraphernalia is not accidental."
The judge jailed Todd for three years and 10 months, and said he urged the prison authorities to ensure he received help for drug issues while in custody. He ordered forfeiture of the cash.
He imposed a nine-month home-detention sentence on Beckley, with six months of special post-release conditions, and 300 hours of community work.
A third offender, who is recovering from surgery in Auckland, is still to be sentenced after also pleading guilty. He is regarded as the wholesaler for the drugs ring.
- The Press