Woman convicted for selling formerly legal highs

Last updated 15:35 15/05/2014
Nikita Awhina Pender
Fairfax NZ
GUILTY PLEA: Nikita Awhina Pender outside of court, where she admitted selling a prohibited substance.
Jason Graeme McConnochie
Fairfax NZ
LEGAL CASE ONGOING: Jason Graeme McConnochie waits outside Hamilton District Court this morning before appearing on a psychoactive charge.

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A Hamilton woman has become the first in the country to be convicted for selling previously legal highs.

Nikita Awhina Pender, 19, pleaded guilty to one charge of selling a prohibited substance under amended psychoactive substance legislation while her partner Jason Graeme McConnochie, 31, was remanded without plea after appearing  in the Hamilton District Court today.

The charge carries a maximum penalty of two years' prison.

Police allegedly found McConnochie and Pender in possession of nearly 200 packets of psychoactive substances and hundreds of dollars in cash between May 7 and 8, just one day after the new law kicked in.

The arrests were made after police received a tip-off that the pair were allegedly selling the substances from a motel on Ulster St in Hamilton.

In total, 196 packets of unsold product and $680 cash were found.

It became illegal to sell, supply or possess psychoactive substances, including synthetic cannabis, under the Psychoactive Substances Amendment Bill, which was passed under urgency in Parliament last week. It banned 41 products given interim approval under legislation passed last year.

Pender was convicted and remanded on bail for sentencing next month.

McConnochie was remanded without plea on bail, with a condition not to associate with Pender, and must reappear in court next month.

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