An Auckland man who found himself at a residential drug rehabilitation facility last year is alleged to have seen the situation as an opportunity for profit rather than self-improvement.
The jury trial began today in the Auckland District Court for Darren Andrew Creelman, who was arrested on drugs and gun-related charges in October 2022 following a large-scale police raid at Nga Kete Wananga Solutions in Dairy Flat.
The facility operates a 12-week programme that includes treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.
It is known for focusing on people who may not be a good fit for more traditional facilities, defence lawyer Marcus Edgar told jurors today during a brief opening statement, suggesting police “fixated” on Creelman to the detriment of their investigation.
“There were multiple suspects who could easily fit the profile,” he said.
Creelman faces one count each of possession of methamphetamine for supply, possession of a precursor substance for manufacturing methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a semi-automatic pistol and unlawful possession of ammunition. The supply charge carries a maximum possible punishment of life imprisonment.
He began the trial today by pleading not guilty to all charges.
Crown prosecutor Daniel Becker told jurors during his opening address that police found just under 400 grams of methamphetamine and just under 1kg of meth ingredient pseudoephedrine, as well as the pistol and the ammunition, inside a plastic bucket while executing an early-morning search warrant at the facility on Thursday, October 6 last year.
Although the bucket wasn’t inside Creelman’s cabin, it was next to a pile of wood near his unit where it would have been accessible to him, Becker said, noting that some of the discovered items were in hot-sealed plastic bags.
Police did find digital scales, plastic baggies and a heat sealer that bore traces of methamphetamine inside Creelman’s cabin, the prosecutor told jurors.
Becker acknowledged the case against Creelman is circumstantial, but said jurors should be able to make logical conclusions that would convince them beyond reasonable doubt the defendant was the person who controlled the bucket full of contraband.
“Mr Creelman was well aware of the contents of the bucket,” he said.
Defence lawyers Edgar and Shannon Withers, however, suggested it is far from a clear-cut case.
The bucket, they noted, was found in a common area of the rehab facility that all residents had access to.
The trial is expected to last several days.
Craig Kapitan is an Auckland-based journalist covering courts and justice. He joined the Herald in 2021 and has reported on courts since 2002 in three newsrooms in the US and New Zealand.