Couple sentenced for selling illegal highs

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014

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A Waikato couple caught selling psychoactive substances from a Hamilton motel have been sentenced.

Nikita Awhina Pender, 19, of Ngaruawahia, was the first in the country to plead guilty to a charge of selling a prohibited substance under amended psychoactive substance legislation.

The offending occurred just one day after the new law began in May.

Her partner, Jason Graeme McConnochie, 31, of Hamilton pleaded guilty at a later stage. Both were sentenced in the Hamilton District Court on Friday.

The court heard they travelled to Auckland to buy the substances before selling them from an Ulster St motel where Pender was working and staying.

Police received a tipoff and found them with 196 packets of psychoactive substances - 21 in Pender's handbag, the rest located in McConnochie's backpack.

Cash totalling $629.40 was also found in their possession by officers.

In noting Pender's conviction-free history, Judge Merelina Burnett sentenced her to nine months' supervision and 80 hours' community work.

She was less impressed with McConnochie's 11-page history.

When asking him to stand up straight, McConnochie replied that he felt sick.

Burnett responded by saying that it wouldn't take her long, a "shorter period of time than what it would to read your conviction history".

She sentenced him to 12 months' intensive supervision, four months' community detention and ordered him not to possess alcohol or drugs.

It became illegal to sell, supply or possess psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabis, under the Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill, which was passed under urgency in Parliament in May. It banned 41 products given interim approval under legislation passed last year.

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- Waikato Times

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