Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Judge: Electronic monitoring bail cannot stop P dealers who supplied drugs with network of drivers

Dealers used a network of drivers to deliver drugs despite being on lock-down at home while on EM bail.
Electronically monitored bail cannot stop determined P dealers, according to a High Court judge. Photo / File
Electronically monitored bail cannot stop determined P dealers, according to a High Court judge. Photo / File

Two prolific P dealers used a network of drivers to deliver drugs while they stayed home on electronically monitored bail for methamphetamine charges.

David Vernon and Jiawen Jiang were convicted of selling 1.35kg and 623g of the Class-A drug respectively, all while supposedly under the monitoring of Corrections and police.

The blatant breaches prompted a High Court judge to label Jiang as a "prime example of the fact that EM bail cannot stop a determined drug dealer from continuing to offend".

Jiang was granted EM bail in March 2015, on the conditions of staying away from cellphones and drugs after being arrested with 136g of methamphetamine, $4325 cash, a P pipe and an air pistol.

The next month police began monitoring his phone conversations and the investigation widened to include other people, like Vernon, from those communications.

Between June and August 2015, police gathered enough evidence to confirm Jiang supplied methamphetamine at least 31 times.

"Because you could not leave your home, you engaged a number of drivers to deliver methamphetamine and/or cash to purchasers," Justice Lang said in sentencing Jiang.

"In particular, you sold drugs on a wholesale basis to Mr David Vernon, who then distributed them to others using a system of drivers.

"Mr Vernon's activities were also restricted at that time because he was on EM bail as well."

Police were able to prove Jiang supplied 623g of methamphetamine over 14 transactions, but were unable to calculate the total amount from the other 17 deals.

"Nevertheless, those transactions demonstrate that you were dealing methamphetamine on a very large scale."

In sentencing Jiang to a total of 10 years and eight months in prison, Justice Lang gave him a discount of 20 per cent for his guilty pleas but increased the sentence by 12 months because offending while on EM bail was an aggravating factor.

"You blatantly ignored those bail conditions and continued to offend in the most serious way possible.

"You are prime example of the fact that EM bail cannot stop a determined drug dealer from continuing to offend."

Vernon pleaded guilty to 26 charges of being in possession of methamphetamine for supply and 60 charges of supplying the Class-A drug, as well as four charges of conspiracy to supply.

He was sentenced to 12 years and nine months in prison.

Electronically monitored bail is jointly managed by the Corrections Department and the police.

EM bail requires a person to remain at an approved address at all times and be monitored by Corrections for up to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The electronic anklet sends a continuous signal to a monitoring unit installed at the bailee's residence and in some cases their workplace.

The monitoring unit in turn sends real time information to a control centre, letting the security staff know that the person is where they're supposed to be.

Those on EM bail may be granted leave for approved purposes, such as to attend court, medical appointments or in some cases employment or education.

A spokeswoman for Corrections referred a request for comment to the police, who responded to say it was a matter for Corrections. Corrections eventually declined to comment.

- NZ Herald

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