Jailed rocker wants reduced sentence

Last updated 12:10 03/10/2011
Rick Bryant
JAILED: Rick Bryant, performing with the Jubilation Gospel Choir.

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Ageing rocker Rick Bryant is asking for his prison term for drug dealing to be reduced to home detention.

Bryant, 63,  has served more than three months of a two year term for having cannabis to sell and having small amounts of cannabis oil, ecstasy and cocaine.

In the Court of Appeal today his lawyer Paul Wicks said the sentencing judge had given too much weight to Bryant's risk of reoffending and failed to take into account "significant medical disabilities" relating to his spine.

Bryant, whose real name is Donald Richard Bryant, is a blues and rock performer with a three-decade music history in bands including Rick Bryant and the Jive Bombers, The Jubilation Gospel Choir, Blerta, and the Windy City Strugglers.

However the Court of Appeal at Wellington today was told that he also had a 35-year history of cannabis use. At the time a probation officer spoke to him before sentencing Bryant's view had been that cannabis should be legalised.

But Bryant had written to the sentencing judge that he no longer smoked cannabis, did not want to be involved with cannabis or other drugs and was willing to have rehabilitation.

Crown lawyer Kate Bicknell told the Court of Appeal that the sentencing judge had been rightly sceptical of Bryant's efforts to reform.

She said Bryant's mention, in his affidavit from prison, of a lack of sunlight and the effect on him of air conditioning was no more than office workers would usually encounter.

Mr Wicks had said Bryant's sentence should have been reduced because of his spinal problems but Ms Bicknell said a reduction was not required.

She said the sentencing judge had a doctor's report saying Bryant had recovered early this year.

Sending Bryant back to the home where he had dealt drugs for two years would not meet the purposes of sentencing, Ms Bicknell said.

He had previously had a jail sentencing for drug crimes so he knew the risk he was running.

Bryant has a music studio attached to his central Auckland home. Mr Wicks said the home circumstances meant Bryant would not face the boredom and lack of supervision that the sentencing judge had feared might increase the risk of him reoffending.

The Court of Appeal reserved its decision.

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- The Dominion Post

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