Cocaine spoils birthday plans

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 12:37 26/06/2013

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An Australian childcare worker's 40th birthday backfired after the cocaine she was given was left in her purse when she boarded a flight to Queenstown.

Joanne Kinghorn, of Manly in Sydney, appeared before Judge Christopher Somerville in Queenstown District Court this morning.

She was remanded in custody on Sunday when she arrived at Queenstown Airport on a flight from Sydney.

A charge of importation of cocaine into New Zealand was reduced to a charge of possession of the class A drug.

Judge Somerville said the offending was a disaster for Kinghorn.

Crown prosecutor Michael Morris, appearing on behalf of Immigration New Zealand, said Kinghorn arrived at the airport at 12.30pm.

She was spoken to by Customs, searched and a small ziplock bag containing 1.1g of cocaine was discovered.

Kinghorn, an ethics teacher, admitted using the drug but told officials she inadvertently carried it to New Zealand.

Lawyer Sonia Vidal said her client celebrated her 40th birthday on Friday with a meal and then a party.

At the party close friends gave her the bag of cocaine, she took some and eventually finished partying at 6am.

After seeing friends on Saturday she went home to catch an early-morning Sunday flight to Queenstown but she inadvertently left the cocaine in her purse.

She worked as a nanny and as a teacher and was extremely concerned by the implications of a conviction.

''She is mortified, she has otherwise got a clean criminal history in Australia and New Zealand.

''The three days in cells in Queenstown will ensure she never ever commits an offence. It's been quite a horrific experience.''

Kinghorn told the court she acknowledged possession and that she had done something wrong.

''I did have it, I did use it, it was in my possession. I'm an ethics teacher, teaching primary ethics to junior school, if that was to compromise what I do that would be mortifying.''

She was fined $400 and remanded in the custody of Immigration New Zealand until her flight back to Sydney this afternoon. 

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- The Southland Times

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