Synthetics dealer jailed

A man arrested for selling synthetic drugs at the height of last year’s health scares has been jailed for nine months.

Judge Nevin Dawson told 23-year-old Jaron Levi Wilson at his Christchurch District Court sentencing that his drink-driving and his drug selling created potential victims in the community.

He said: “The community needs protection from drink-driving and those who spread drugs in the community. Both put the public at risk.”

Defence counsel Kirsty May pointed out that in spite of the police’s comments on the case, they had not charged Wilson with any offences relating to the health concerns they put before the court.

“The police don’t allege, and nor is there evidence, that his offending resulted in the deaths of any individuals, though it is accepted it may be simply fortuitous,” she said.

Wilson was arrested in October when Christchurch Health Services were seeing an influx in serious health complications from consuming psychoactive substances.

Within the previous two weeks, 19 people had been admitted to Christchurch Hospital with “severe synthetic toxicity”, and at that time two remained in intensive care.

Symptoms included hallucinations, seizures, aggression, paranoia, anxiety, and overheating, the police said.

During this time, four people were thought to have died from psychoactive substance consumption, and more deaths were being investigated with that substance being the suspected cause.

Wilson, who has been held in custody, faced sentencing on eight charges he admitted, relating to three incidents.

He was stopped by police on August 10, 2018, after a member of the public reported their concerns about his driving, and was found to have a breath-alcohol level of 1187mcg of alcohol to a litre of breath. The limit for prosecution is 250mcg. A machete and a sickle – offensive weapons – were found in his car, as well as 13 point bags of a psychoactive substance, and some cannabis. He spat at the arresting officer when he was placed in the patrol car.

He was arrested on October 4 and charged with selling synthetic drugs and refusing to give a police officer making a search the password for his cellphone.

A police patrol in Phillipstown found many drug impaired persons on Leyden Street. Some were unresponsive and unconscious and needed ambulance assistance. They said they had used drugs but would not say where.

The police completed making inquiries at an address in Leyden Street because drug paraphernalia was in plain view. While they were there, Wilson arrived. He had a shoulder bag containing $330 cash and three cellphone SIM cards.

At the address, 2g of psychoactive substances were found, as well as scales, a cannabis grinder, and multiple cellphones.

Wilson also admitted assaulting a woman by shoving her into the wall of a shop after a minor altercation in the street.

Judge Dawson said reports showed that the factors in Wilson’s offending were his alcohol and drug use, his friends and associations, and his relationships. He had not expressed remorse, except for the assault on the woman. He did not want to be considered for an electronically monitored sentence.

The judge imposed a series of sentences totalling nine months’ jail but granted leave for Wilson to apply for home detention during the sentence if a residential drug treatment programme placement can be arranged.