Scribe must prove drug rehab success

Hip-hop artist Scribe will have to prove he is “kicking the drug habit” if he wants to be discharged without conviction on a methamphetamine possession charge, he was told at court today.

The 38-year-old musician – real name Malo Ioane Luafutu – was about to leave Christchurch on his way to a drug rehab course next day in Wellington in April 2017 when he was arrested for meth possession.

After finding the charge proved at a half-day trial in the Christchurch District Court today, Judge Raoul Neave remanded him for a hearing on May 23 when defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger will apply for the discharge.

Judge Neave said Luafutu would need to show at the hearing “that he is in fact kicking the habit”.

He remanded Luafutu on bail with a condition that he not “possess or consume any illicit drug”.

After hearing the evidence, Judge Neave dismissed three charges of failing to attend court while on bail, possession of offensive weapon – a baseball bat – and possession of a pipe for smoking methamphetamine.

He found that Luafutu had possession of the point-bag of methamphetamine which he said he had found and picked up. Luafutu told police that, but did not say he had planned to hand it in or destroy it.

The pipe was found in the car Luafutu arrived in as a passenger, but it was not his car, and not everything in the car was his. “In the absence of anything more, that charge is dismissed,” he said.

The prosecution had called no evidence about the three failures to answer bail, for which arrest warrants had been issued. Those charges were dismissed.

Luafutu had waved the bat around, and used to point. Tapping it on a parked car which had triggered the incident had been “pretty mild”. There was evidence that the bat belonged to his father, and had been used for children to play with. At the time of the incident, Luafutu had been asked to return it to his parent’s house where he was going for dinner, and he was taking it there.

Judge Neave said: “I can’t be certain there was an intention to use it in an offensive way.”

A police bid for suppression of name for the officers who arrested the rapper was rejected by judge.

Police prosecutor William Jennings asked for the suppression part way through the trial, saying there was “concern about the fan base”.

Judge Neave immediately rejected the application, saying the officers were not under cover and, “I’m not doing it without evidence. Courts are conducted on an open basis. The prosecution is usually very hot on this sort of thing.”

“I have no evidence, Your Honour,” said Mr Jennings.

“In that case I’m not doing it,” said Judge Neave and the trial carried on.

Scribe recorded his first album in 2003 and was the MTV Australia Award for best Kiwi artist in 2008 winner.

The trial was told of an incident at a property in Ollivers Road, Phillipstown, on April 3, 2017. A woman gave evidence of a man arguing with her about a car that was parked over a driveway at the Linwood Rugby Club rooms. She said he was swearing and yelling and tapping her car with a bat. She was scared and got her partner to phone the police.

The partner told the court that they had been asked to park across the driveway because the owner of the property asked them to block it so people couldn’t dump rubbish. He rang the police. He said the man was waving the bat around and using it to point at things. He tapped it on the car a couple of times before he police arrived and confronted him.

Constable Andrew Hearne said another officer arrested Luafutu and began searching him. Luafutu said he would smash him.

Constable Kurt Harlow said he found Luatutu and arrested him. He was agitated and aggressive and resisted being handcuffed. He searched him and found a bag of methamphetamine. A police dog handler found a bat in the back of the car and a glass pipe commonly used for smoking methamphetamine.

Constable Harlow said Luafutu said he had found the methamphetamine on the ground and picked it up. He said he had a bat because Olliviers Road was a dangerous place.

Cross-examined by defence counsel Elizabeth Bulger, the constable said he had never managed to get the handcuffs on Luafutu. Luafutu said he had a broken wrist, and he was wearing a wrist guard often used in sport. He thought Luafutu was in discomfort, but not in pain.

Luafutu elected not to give evidence in his defence, but called evidence from his mother about the ownership of the baseball bat.

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