The jailing of a drug dealer may have given a clue to the size of Christchurch’s methamphetamine problem.
He was found with a loaded pistol and cash totalling $145,400 stashed in his car.
Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish described the class A drug as “a scourge on our city” and warned that dealers could expect deterrent sentences.
She said the cash was either the proceeds from drugs sales, or was available to buy more for his dealing.
She then jailed 28-year-old Jamie Rangi Heron for two years eleven months, and he farewelled his partner, two children, and family with hugs – and an apology – before starting his prison term.
The car he was driving, a Land-Rover, is gone, forfeit to the Crown and so is all the money.
Heron had admitted charges of possession of methamphetamine for supply, possession of cannabis, unlawful possession of a pistol and ammunition, and a representative charge of offering or supplying methamphetamine – which carries a maximum term of life imprisonment.
He was released from prison on bail in December and defence counsel Paul Norcross told of him making good progress with efforts to rehabilitate himself since then.
But Judge Farish told Heron that even with sentence reductions for his guilty pleas, rehabilitation, and for the amount he was handing over, the jail term was still well beyond the level where she could consider home detention.
Heron had been effectively on the run in February 2015, wanted for burglary and a breach of intensive supervision. He was dealing in meth and using it himself, and it had got him into a lot of trouble.
He was stopped by police when he was driving badly on Grahams Road, Burnside, at 2.50am on February 24. The search that followed was challenged in court and a judge ruled that it had breached his rights, but she still held that it could be used against him.
First, police found a cellphone in the car’s from console – the first of four found in the vehicle – and then a resealable plastic bag containing meth.
There was $5400 in the glove compartment, and two sets of electronic scales in the vehicle.
A loaded .22 pistol was in a holster behind the front passenger seat.
Judge Farish said Heron clearly had the pistol available to protect himself, the drugs, and the money in his possession.
Police then found a red toolbox in the boot containing $140,000 in cash, and a small amount of cannabis.
An analysis of the texts on the cellphones showed that Heron was “actively involved in supplying and offering to supply methamphetamine”, said the judge.
She urged Heron to continue with the rehabilitation work he had already begun.