Outcomes of at least 20 Hawke's Bay prosecutions linked to methamphetamine dealing are now being held-up as judges and lawyers await a decision from a Court of Appeal review involving penalties.
All involving sentencing, including charges which carry an unlikely-to-be-realised maximum penalty of life imprisonment, several had been initially adjourned to today(June 21) for hearing in Napier District Court.
But the absence of a guidelines decision from a full Appeal court of five senior judges in Wellington on April 16-17 has meant the Hawke's Bay cases have now been tentatively adjourned till July 30.
The 20 cases include the last from Operation Lariat which involved 13 arrests in 2017 and for which Hastings man Shane Thompson was sentenced to 13 years in jail.
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They also include 7 prosecutions from Operation Chrome, a police Eastern District organised crime unit crackdown which ended in October last year, after seizures of firearms, large quantities of cash and methamphetamine, LSD, cannabis and equipment used to manufacture methamphetamine.
A major shakeup of the penalty regime, essentially based on a 2005 Appeal court decision known as R v Fatu, is being forecast as result of the April hearing, in which a QC questioned the effectiveness of lengthy jail sentences in deterring people from methamphetamine offending.
Under the Fatu regime, quantities were a major factor, but the most serious band of 500g-plus in days when most methamphetamine in New Zealand was the product of clandestine cooks had lost relevance alongside imported consignments of over 60kg.
It had been hoped the Appeal court would release its decision by the end of May but a registrar told Hawke's Bay Today only that the judgement is "well advanced."