Prison may overcome addiction

By Katie Holland

A drug-addicted woman has been sent to prison after a Rotorua judge decided it was necessary for her rehabilitation.

Sickness beneficiary Lisa Kay Uhlenburg, 35, was sentenced in Rotorua District Court on Friday to 14 months in prison after previously pleading guilty to producing precursor substance pseudoephedrine, knowing it would be used to manufacture methamphetamine (P).

Judge Phillip Cooper said on May 17 last year Uhlenburg went with her partner to a local store where she bought spirits of salts and acetone, used to produce pseudoephedrine. The next day, police executed a search warrant at her partner's home, where a chemical extraction process was underway.

The judge accepted Uhlenburg's role in the process was peripheral and there was no indication she made any profit from it. However, he said her previous drug convictions, including one for supplying methamphetamine, were aggravating factors.

Uhlenburg's lawyer Tony Balme asked the judge to consider imposing home detention instead of prison so his client would be able to engage in rehabilitation. He said it was unlikely any meaningful rehabilitation could be achieved during a short term in prison and claimed his client was motivated to get help for her long-term drug addiction.

In response to questioning by the judge, Mr Balme admitted his client had not yet taken any steps to get help for her problem.

Crown prosecutor Amanda Gordon opposed home detention, saying Uhlenburg had been given opportunities in the past to address her addiction.

In sentencing, Judge Cooper told Uhlenburg there was nothing to show she was committed to her rehabilitation, therefore home detention was not appropriate.

"I have come to the conclusion the structured environment of prison is a necessary first step in your rehabilitation," he said.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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