Jail term 'sweet as' - meth dealer

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 10:06 07/08/2014

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A convicted methamphetamine dealer seemed pleased with the five-year three-month jail term he got at his Christchurch District Court sentencing.

"Sweet as," Robert George Keen called to a woman in the court's public seating as he was led to the cells to begin his prison term on charges of possession of methamphetamine for supply, unlawful possession of a pistol, and receiving stolen property.

Judge Alistair Garland's sentence included an order for forfeiture of $43,170 in cash that 43-year-old Keen was found with when the police visited the motor camp near Kaiapoi where he was living.

The police came to the camp after a complaint about his driving in the grounds escalated.

When police found him and he lay down, they found items pushed beneath a mobile home next to him.

They were a shopping bag containing sealable plastic bags that contained 21.8g of methamphetamine, and a .22 calibre revolver loaded with seven rounds.

They also found $43,170 cash in the bag, and more cash and digital scales with traces of the class A drug when they searched his unit.

Keen maintained the drug was for his personal use and the money was to set up a trucking venture and had been loaned by friends. The jury at his trial was unconvinced and convicted him.

Judge Garland described the trucking venture as "a convenient cover for your intention to make large sums of money dealing in methamphetamine".

The cash had been found with the drugs and the money. "It would be naive of me to think this very large sum of money was there from a legitimate source. You didn't have a legitimate means of making such a large sum."

It was either the proceeds of previous sales or intended to be used to buy more drugs.

Judge Garland said Keen had an extensive history of previous offending, including three for firearms offences, and others for driving and dishonesty. There were eight convictions for violence-related offences.

Deterrence for methamphetamine dealing was important to the community because of its high risk of harm, and the Court of Appeal had described the presence of loaded firearms as "anathema to the community" because of the potential for danger.

"This is one of the most serious aggravating factors that can be found in drugs cases," said Judge Garland.

Keen had also been convicted of receiving two television sets worth $1700 stolen in an Oamaru burglary.

The present offending had occurred while he was on bail.

Judge Garland imposed the jail term, ordered forfeiture of the money, and ordered destruction of the pistol.

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