Businessman denies meth addiction

A judge was clearly unimpressed with a Christchurch businessman’s assertion that he was not addicted to methamphetamine, as he faced sentencing on three charges.

Judge Kevin Phillips said at the Christchurch District Court sentencing that Nicholas Murray Vertue was “denying the obvious”.

“He doesn’t accept that he is addicted. That’s an aggravating factor,” the judge told Vertue’s defence counsel, Andrew Riches.

The judge questioned the value of drug assessment or rehabilitation for the 40-year-old.

“That’s for people who want assistance and accept the obvious,” he said.

Vertue had pleaded guilty to two charges of possessing pipes for using methamphetamine and one charge of possession of the class A drug.

Vertue is the manager of the Canterbury Sustainable Trust, which employs several staff. The trust, which says it is “based on giving back to the community”, installs insulation, ventilation, heating and cooling systems using locally sourced products.

Mr Riches said Vertue “gives back to the community through his business”, and had responsibilities and “runs a respectable life”. The offending was out of character.

Judge Phillips said police had found methamphetamine pipes in July, at a warehouse where Vertue operated the business.

After he was charged, Mr Riches began preparing an application to grant him a discharge without conviction, because the conviction “would cause him great difficulties”.

However, while the application was being prepared, Vertue took a flight on November 9 and methamphetamine and drugs utensils were found in his bag. Judge Phillips said this happened while he was on bail and had a bail condition not to use drugs.

He said that if Vertue had appeared before him at that stage, “I would have put you in custody to save you from yourself”.

He believed Vertue was addicted to a “pernicious” drug. “It has ruined a lot of better people than you.”

“You are intelligent enough to walk away from it and get treatment, but that can only happen if you accept the problem,” he said, imposing community work totalling 180 hours.