Drug offender forced to lose houses

By Katie Holland -
Judge James Weir has ordered Convicted drug offender, Vant Leven to forfeit two of his properties where is offending took place.
Judge James Weir has ordered Convicted drug offender, Vant Leven to forfeit two of his properties where is offending took place.

A Rotorua judge has ordered a convicted drug offender must forfeit part of his properties to the Crown.

Phillip John Vant Leven, 54, has been sentenced in the Rotorua District Court to three-and-a-half years' prison on eight drugs charges, relating to methamphetamine.

At the sentencing on Friday, Judge James Weir granted a Crown application for forfeiture of part of Vant Leven's interest in properties on Riri St and Edward Payton Gr, Rotorua.

The two properties were the sites of some of his offending, which took place between October 2009 and May 2012.

A jury found Vant Leven guilty in April of six counts, including possession of precursor substances and equipment and conspiring to extract pseudoephedrine.

He pleaded guilty to possession of a precursor substance and possession of equipment. Judge Weir said only 50 per cent of the two properties was available for forfeiture as half belonged to Vant Leven's ex-partner.

He said the Riri St property was valued in October 2012 at $455,000 while the Edward Payton Grove property was recently valued at $340,000.

However the real value would be determined at sale. The judge accepted both properties were obtained legitimately and there was no evidence Vant Leven used proceeds from drug sales to buy them.

However both were used as "instruments of crime" so must be forfeited unless their loss would be out of proportion to the seriouness of the crime.

Judge Weir ruled 30 per cent of the properties' sale proceeds would go to the Crown leaving Vant Leven 20 per cent and his ex-partner 50 per cent.

"That should leave you with a reasonable sum on your release from prison," the judge said.

He noted Vant Leven owned another Rotorua section and a property in the Coromandel.

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