A drug dealer caught with 17.3 grams of methamphetamine has been jailed for three years, three months and almost $30,000 from P sales has been confiscated under the proceeds of crime law.
Tai Rewita, 39, of Mount Maunganui, who last month pleaded guilty to one count each of possession of methamphetamine for supply and selling methamphetamine, plus two counts of driving while disqualified (third or subsequent) was sentenced in Tauranga District Court yesterday.
The charges stem from two police searches between July 1 and 13 last year, including a search of Rewita's Ranch Rd address which netted a substantial amount of cash and methamphetamine.
His P-dealing was over a period of five months between February and July 2011.
Rewita admitted to police during a video interview that some of the cash was the proceeds of his methamphetamine dealing, but he claimed $20,000 was the proceeds of the sale of motor vehicles.
Rewita's lawyer Bill Nabney told Judge Louis Bidois yesterday that his client had decided to abandon that stance.
Crown prosecutor Heidi Wrigley argued a prison sentence of five or six years for this "significant ongoing dealing operation" was warranted before any discounts for guilty pleas, and an increase in the sentence was required for the driving offences.
Mrs Wrigley said Rewita did not deserve the usual 25 per cent discount for his guilty pleas because they were not entered until July 18 this year at a pre-trial hearing. But Mr Nabney argued that Rewita's drug offending did not warrant such a high sentence starting point and he also deserved at least 20 per cent discount for his guilty pleas, remorse and his commitment to rehabilitating himself, including seeking out whanau support.
Judge Bidois told Rewita that the aggravating factors to his offending were the number of charges, the range of offences, the amount of drugs sold and the amount he was caught with.
However, the judge said in setting the sentence he was prepared to take into account Rewita's background, which included his serious methamphetamine addiction problems, his remorse and prospects of rehabilitation.
"I sense Mr Rewita you have reached a stage in your life where you now seriously want to do something about your criminal offending and your serious drug habit, and also recognise that you do need to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
"But the danger for you Mr Rewita is that if you get involved with drugs again the prison sentences from now on will be much larger than you have received today," said Judge Bidois.
Rewita was also disqualified from driving for 15 months.