Bodybuilder blames friend for drug offending

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014
 Steven Orton
JOHN KIRK ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
Bodybuilder Steven Orton leaves the Christchurch District Court after his sentencing on drug charges.

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Disgraced bodybuilding world champ Stephen Orton has accused a former friend and competitor of misleading him into receiving packages of an illegal party drug worth nearly $100,000.

Orton, 24, also regarded as one of Christchurch's top personal trainers, says his decision to trust the Auckland-based man was the "most careless, stupid, silly decision I have ever made".

"I was duped and so very foolish," he says in court documents viewed by The Press.

Orton, a rising star of the international bodybuilding circuit, was last week sentenced to seven months' home detention during a hearing at the Christchurch District Court.

He had earlier admitted two charges of importing about 700 grams of the Class C drug methylone, also known as bk-MDMA, from China. The drug's effects are similar to ecstasy.

This week, The Press was granted full access to Orton's court file.

In a sworn affidavit, Orton says he had been asked by a bodybuilder friend from Auckland to accept packages sent to him under a woman's name. He was told to leave them on the porch outside his home and someone would collect them.

The friend, whose name has been provided to investigators, was a well known supplier of steroids and the owner of a supplements company, Orton's affidavit says.

The pair first met at a bodybuilding competition in June last year.

Orton claims he thought the packages were full of steroids but realised they likely contained something more serious when Customs investigators burst into his home in November last year.

"I admit that I do know steroids are illegal but are unfortunately commonplace in my sport," his affidavit says.

A Customs spokeswoman said the allegations formed part of an ongoing investigation.

The supplements company's owner denied importing any drugs or dealing in steroids.

"I haven't been contacted or talked to by anyone [about the investigation]," the owner said.

In a letter to Judge Gary MacAskill, Orton apologised for what he had done and asked for a second chance.

"I have learnt my lesson, and I hope that you can see this and not let this horrible mistake of mine effect me for the rest of my life (sic). I am a proud New Zealander and love representing this country to the best of my ability.

"I have been dealing and complying with Customs since day one to give them all the necessary information they need to catch the person that took advantage of my good nature.

"I am so sorry and I am ashamed of myself."

Orton was crowned National Amateur Bodybuilders' Association world champion in Italy in June last year. In court last week, his lawyer, Kirsty May, sought a discharge without conviction.

Orton's ability to travel overseas and compete as a professional athlete would be affected if he was convicted, May said.

Judge MacAskill rejected her request.

He said sports stars, even those at elite level, could expect no special treatment from the courts for serious criminal offences.

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The decision left Orton's bodybuilding career in tatters.

He is also no longer employed by Les Mills.

This week, former national bodybuilding champion Phillip Musson, 45, from Christchurch, was sentenced to nearly four and a half years behind bars for masterminding a nationwide mail-order steroid and party pill dealing operation.

- The Press

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