Elite bodybuilder refused special treatment

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 15:13 15/08/2014
Stephen Michael Raymond Orton
John Kirk-Anderson

CONVICTED: Stephen Orton admitted being a 'catcher' for drugs smuggled into NZ.

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A high profile Christchurch bodybuilder's international career is in tatters.

Stephen Michael Raymond Orton, 24, was yesterday convicted of drug importation and sentenced to seven months of home detention and 150 hours of community work.

Judge Gary MacAskill told the Christchurch District Court that sports stars, even those at elite level, could expect no special treatment from the courts for serious criminal offences. 

Orton, a personal trainer, had asked for a discharge without conviction after he admitted being a "catcher" for two packages of the class C drug methylone, which were sent from China.

The drug mimicks the effects of ecstasy.

Judge MacAskill adjourned the case for 24 hours before yesterday refusing the discharge.

The drug packages were intercepted in Auckland and sent on as controlled deliveries to a fictitious woman at Orton's address.

The 709g could have had a value of between $42,552 and $94,560, depending how it was sold.

Orton had agreed to receive the drug for a payment of $500 and then leave it on his porch for collection, but he had not arranged for its importation and was not involved in on-selling it.

Orton said he had not received the payment.

Judge MacAskill acknowledged that Orton previously had a good character and had reached high levels in his bodybuilding sport. Orton became the National Amateur Bodybuilders Association world champion last year.

He was likely to lose his job as a personal trainer, and was likely to lose clients due to the publicity about his offending.

The judge accepted that the convictions would "probably prejudice" Orton's ability to travel to overseas bodybuilding events.

"The offending is so serious that the court should not be in a position of concealing it from border authorities in other countries."

Probation saw Orton as having no rehabilitation needs.

Orton left court surrounded by supporters, declining to comment to media.

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