Cocaine courier gets long jail term

ANNE CLARKSON
Last updated 13:13 30/07/2014

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A drug courier involved in importing up to $3.5 million worth of cocaine has been jailed for four years and seven months.

Thiago August De Oliviera, a 31-year-old factory hand, was today sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on a charge of possession for supply of the class A drug.

Defence counsel Lorraine Smith said De Oliviera borrowed money from the bank to do a skydiving course in Italy. When he returned to New Zealand he went into business as a tiler but it was unsuccessful and he got into debt.

He was given $1000 to fly to Auckland to pick up the cocaine and bring it back to Christchurch in two suitcases.

Judge Jane Farish said De Oliviera was one of five people involved in importing the cocaine, worth up to $3.5 million, into New Zealand on March 7.

He couriered the cocaine to Christchurch, but did not know he was under surveillance by the police. He was arrested after he dropped the drug off to a co-offender in a supermarket car park.

Judge Farish said De Oliviera was a first offender, but a pre-sentence report written by the probation service had recommended a home detention sentence, which was unrealistic and had given him false hope.

She said De Oliviera's poor judgment call came at a time when he was not thinking straight, and he thought it would solve his debt problem.

It was out of character, and there was no risk of him re-offending. He did not use drugs, and was a positive member of the community, she said.

De Oliviera was a permanent resident, and was genuinely remorseful for the harm he could have caused to the community.

She said a co-offender, Joao Batista Da Silveira, 39, was jailed for six years in Auckland.

The other three co-offenders pleaded not guilty and will be appearing in a case management hearing in Manukau next month.

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