Defendant swore not to touch meth

By Melissa Nightingale

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Through tears, Norman Katipa swore he'd never touch meth again.

"Looking back in hindsight, it is evil, I've gone right to the bottom," Katipa said in an emotional address to Judge David Cameron in the Whanganui District Court on Thursday. I promise you today, I'm never, ever going to touch that drug again."

Katipa was being sentenced on possessing meth for supply, possessing LSD and ecstasy, 11 counts of receiving stolen property, unlawfully possessing a firearm, unlawfully possessing a pistol, unlawfully possessing ammunition, and theft.

The charges arose following a search of Katipa's Taihape home on October 21, 2014, where the items were found.

The stolen items have an estimated total value of $27,579, Judge Cameron said, while meth found in Katipa's car had a value of about $12,000.

The theft charge related to stolen electricity after it was discovered in November 2013 Katipa had been getting free power to his house by bypassing the electricity meter. Genesis Energy estimated the stolen power to be valued at $3254.54.

Before Judge Cameron began sentencing Katipa, defence lawyer Roger Crowley asked if the defendant could speak briefly. Katipa spoke of the suicide of his eldest son in 2006 and how his life had fallen apart since then.

"I tried for so many years just to save my marriage and save the family, I can't describe it to you, sir. It's something I would never wish on anyone . . . that one event just turned my world upside down.

"The thing that really hurts me ... we had two boys, 10 and 12. We forgot they lost their brother. Now they're in trouble. I just really want to be here for them now, it's really my driving thing in life. Get this whole part of my life out of the way. I owe it to them."

He said his addiction to meth had a "catastrophic effect" on his life.

Mr Crowley said it was a story the judge was "no doubt familiar with".

"The sad story of the demise of the user of methamphetamine. The breakdown of the relationship ... the progression of selling the meth to fund one's habit ... the ultimate of reaching the bottom," Mr Crowley said.

He said Katipa was "clearly remorseful" and "clearly insightful".

Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe said Katipa's addiction was "present" before his son's death, but accepted Katipa had demonstrated remorse "or at least a better level of insight".

Judge Cameron said a pre-sentence report assessed Katipa as being at a high risk of reoffending and a high risk of harm to the community. He has convictions ranging from 1976 to 2013, including drink driving, dangerous and careless driving, driving while disqualified, theft, burglary, and other drug offences.

He said $3972 cash was found in Katipa's car during the search, and a supermarket bag with $13,000 in it was found in the house. Katipa does not accept the money as being drug-related and does not accept forfeiture, so a forfeiture hearing is to be set, Judge Cameron said. He sentenced Katipa to four years in prison and ordered that he pay reparation to the power company.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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