‘Longest serving’ meth addict jailed

A man described as possibly the longest serving meth addict to be dealt with in the New Zealand court system has been jailed for three years for offending fuelled by his habit.

Defence counsel Tony Garrett said Steven Albert Tavinor took his first methamphetamine 27 years ago, when he was aged 15 and living in Australia.

He has a long record of offending, which eventually led to him being sent back to New Zealand, a country he had never lived in since his family left with him as a one-year-old baby.

He arrived back in New Zealand with no family, no support, and installed himself in a motor camp in Tauranga, with meagre ability to survive.

The offending continued in New Zealand to support the meth habit, and he had admitted house and motel burglaries, receiving stolen property, unlawfully taking two vehicles, and being found unlawfully on a property.

Christchurch District Court Judge Raoul Neave noted at the sentencing that one of the victims was a tourist who would have left New Zealand with “a sour taste” instead of great memories.

The burglaries and receivings included electronic gear which Judge Neave said he regarded as an aggravating feature because the items would have included so much information and memories. Their loss would have caused stress and distress.

Mr Garrett said: “My client is in the unique position of probably having the most long-standing meth addiction that the courts have dealt with.”

In 2016 and 2017, Tavinor and another offender went on a spree of dishonesty offending.

Judge Neave said that being dumped in New Zealand with no support or ability to rebuild his life had proved disastrous.

Tavinor said that he had “found a sense of peace” in prison. It had been a time to reflect, and to do what he could to get rid of the drugs. The judge thought Tavinor was beginning to realise that there was “a positive life away from the drug scene”.

Mr Garrett said Tavinor had been earning $10 a week working in the prison, serving meals. He was using that money to phone his 70-year-old mother in Australia, who was ill. He had written letters of apology to his victims.

Judge Neave jailed Tavinor for three years but expected that he would be seeking release before the Parole Board quite quickly after 19 months in custody on remand.

He said he supported the plan for Tavinor to have an alcohol and drug assessment with a view to release into a residential rehabilitation programme, Odyssey House, if possible.