Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

Man imported drugs like 'ordering pizza'

File photo / David White
File photo / David White

A young Auckland man imported drugs using an online website like he was "ordering pizza", a court has been told.

Daniel Wayne Fowler, 23, used a website similar to "Silk Rd" - which was recently shut down by the FBI - where customers anonymously use online currency to purchase the illicit substances which are then sent in the mail.

His girlfriend Lisa Marie Clark, 24, admitted charges of possessing class-A and class-B drugs but was discharged without conviction.

Over the course of a week at the end of September last year, Customs intercepted three packages containing a total of 201 ecstasy pills and 16 grams of cannabis.

Fowler's lawyer Tudor Clee said his client was "clearly not a master criminal" and only shelled out about $200-$300, but Crown prosecutor Georgina Woods-Child said that on the street in New Zealand, the drugs could be worth nearly 100 times that.

The mail - which came from Germany and Belgium - was addressed to Clark but Fowler later told police they were for him.

A search warrant executed at the pair's suburban Howick home found Fowler also had a cannabis-growing operation established in the garage and interception of their cellphone messages showed they were complicit in the offending.

Mr Clee said cases of this nature were increasing in frequency because of the convenience of online drug-dealing networks.

"It's safer and easier to order the drugs - which are the subject of the charges before the court today - than it is to order a pizza. Choose the delivery location, choose the toppings and place the order," he said.

When it became a choice between "walking down the local gang pad or tinnie house" to buy drugs or doing it online, safety also became an issue for young people, Mr Clee said.

Fowler had worked hard as an engineer but a back injury saw him at home in pain, with time on his hands, the court heard.

But after being apprehended, he was on bail in the same position when police caught him dealing cannabis, which led to a further charge.

Ms Woods-Child argued imprisonment was the appropriate outcome because there were likely elements of commerciality to the offending but Judge Philip Recordon said it was "naivety rather than stupidity".

Fowler, after pleading guilty to four charges, was given the maximum home detention sentence of one year.

Clark's lawyer Ish Jayanandan told the court her client was considering a career as a nurse and drug charges could bar that pathway.

Judge Recordon agreed a conviction for the "silly things" she did would have a disproportionate impact on her future, and he discharged her without penalty.

- NZME.

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