Identity kept secret in drug death case

16:00, Feb 08 2012

The son of a well-known New Zealand wine-making family has been granted name suppression and released on bail despite pleading guilty to manslaughter.

The 40-year-old man pleaded guilty in the High Court at Auckland yesterday to the manslaughter of a drug associate he injected with morphine.

The man retained name suppression after arguing the effect could be detrimental to an unwell family member.

Court documents said the man met the victim at Narcotics Anonymous in Auckland and they agreed to swap a tent for drugs.

They met in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham in March 2010, drank beer and took a diazepam tablet together.

The accused then dissolved a 100mg morphine sulphate tablet and injected half of it in his own neck before injecting the remaining portion in the victim's right arm.

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He went outside and spoke to his girlfriend on his cellphone and when he returned his friend was slumped under the table he had been sitting at.

Chest compressions and slaps failed to revive him so the man gathered his drug paraphernalia and left the house.

The man's girlfriend later persuaded him to return and call an ambulance, by which time the friend was dead.

It took six months for the man to be charged.

In the time before he was charged, the man had offered to pay his girlfriend $50,000 not to testify against him.

A charge of perverting the course of justice was dropped after the man pleaded guilty yesterday.

Defence lawyer Greg Morison said the man had completed a residential drug treatment programme since the crime.

He was undertaking another residential programme in Dunedin which is where he was bailed to.

Justice Timothy Brewer said cases of manslaughter by injecting people with drugs were not as rare as defence counsel had said.

He rejected that naming the man could endanger the jobs of people at the family's winery as he doubted people would stop drinking the family's wines as a result of the case.

The judge said he doubted that name suppression would continue after sentencing but he continued interim suppression after Morison said he wanted to obtain affidavits from the man's sick relative's specialist.

A home detention report was ordered and the man was bailed to the Dunedin drug treatment programme until sentencing in March.

Auckland Now