Dealer lived off inheritance

Last updated 05:00 02/07/2014
Benjamin Luke Gillard
PLEADED GUILTY: Ben Gillard will be sentenced in September. 

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A backpacker from London lived off an inheritance from his father for months while supplying cannabis in Queenstown, a court was told yesterday.

Benjamin Luke Gillard, 29, appeared for trial in Queenstown District Court before Judge Michael Turner but entered guilty pleas after the lunchtime adjournment.

He admitted supplying cannabis resin on January 20, offering to supply cannabis between January 13 and February 21 and possessing cannabis between January 13 and February 18.

There was extensive discussion between police and Gillard's lawyer, Sonia Vidal, regarding the format of intercepted cellphone text messages produced for the court.

Expert witness Detective Regan Boucher, of the Southern District Organised Crime Squad, told the court he analysed text messages from a cellphone used by Gillard.

Boucher has run numerous drug operations in Southland and Otago, including electronic surveillance and covert activities involving undercover officers and "human intelligence sources" - informers.

Covert sources included people involved in the drug scene and official sources, other police officers and New Zealand Customs.

His expertise included forensic examinations of cellphone data, managing undercover officers, supervising covert deployments, evidence gathering and intelligence.

Boucher said he analysed 10 text conversations and it was apparent a number of discussions related to the distribution of cannabis, using coded language.

"I've seen vast amounts of controlled drugs in various forms. Drug dealers are all aware of the electronic interception capabilities [of police]. Persons involved can use several cellphones to frustrate inquiries."

References in the texts included "nah bro all diddy", "lemon" - referring to cannabis plant material - and "big one" relating to ounces, he said.

Vidal asked whether the term "POE" - which police submitted was code - in the text messages referred to the video game Path of Exile, an online role-playing game - but Boucher said he believed this referred to cannabis.

Vidal also said that "it's a good size" in the text messages could refer to file download size.

In a police interview played to the court, Gillard said he was using an inheritance from his father as a source of income. He was asked about text messages and said he bought cannabis in half ounces or ounces and shared the drug around but denied receiving any payment.

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In relation to texts about seeds, Gillard said he was "a keen gardener". He also said he was very generous in relation to sharing his cannabis and had received quite a bit of money from an inheritance.

He arrived in New Zealand on a tourist visa at the end of last year for his second trip down under.

The judge remanded Gillard for sentence on September 22, ordered him to surrender his passport and called for a pre-sentence report on home detention but said this was no indication of the outcome.

- The Southland Times

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