Woman sent to jail for selling meth for gangs

By Imran Ali

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Nicolette Coutts has been jailed after she admitted 74 drug charges.
Nicolette Coutts has been jailed after she admitted 74 drug charges.

Nicolette Coutts said nothing when she was caught selling a "filthy" drug.

As he sentenced her to three years and nine months in jail, Judge Duncan Harvey noted that gangs used people like Coutts to sell meth, knowing full well they would not say anything that would lead to the arrest of others higher up the chain.

Coutts, 43, was yesterday sentenced in the Whangarei District Court after she pleaded guilty in September to 74 charges.

Coutts had admitted 28 charges of supplying meth, 19 of possession of meth for supply, 13 of possession of cannabis for sale, eight of offering to supply cannabis, four of selling cannabis, and two of offering to sell cannabis.

Judge Harvey said anyone caught selling "filthy"drugs such as meth on behalf of gangs would not be treated as a low level offender.

In April 2015, the Northland Organised Crime Unit started an investigation into the source of meth supply in the region. Its primary focus was street level drug dealers.

A large number of cellphone contacts were analysed and Coutts was identified as a prominent dealer.

On August 9 this year, police searched Coutts' Raumanga flat and recovered 17.6 grams of meth and 88g of cannabis.

During sentencing, her lawyer Dave Sayes said Coutts was one of a growing number of people, particularly women, used by gangs.

Others had profited more significantly from the sale of meth than Coutts whom Mr Sayes described as having a role akin to a "tail-end Charlie".

"Usually they are young girls in their late teens or early 20s, sourced by gangs and who, through their intimidation and horribleness for a long period of time, have a hold on them," Mr Sayes said.

Crown lawyer Justin Walls said Coutts' affiliation to gangs was an aggravating factor.

Judge Harvey said: "This court will do all it can to stamp out the sale and distribution of this drug. You are friends with other people with gang affiliations and that's how you became involved. But you should have realised and refused to become involved."

- Northern Advocate

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