A West Auckland man has been sentenced to community detention and supervision for supplying synthetic drugs to a young father who died soon after using the toxic substances.
In February Jonathan Gordon, 23, pleaded guilty to a charge of supplying a psychoactive substance.
The charge followed a police investigation into the death of Calum Jones, 22, at his Henderson home.
Jones had been battling an addiction to synthetic drugs for years and had only been home from fulltime rehab for one day when he died.
Despite doing better than he had in years and getting on top of his severe addiction, Jones used synthetic drugs shortly before his death.
His is one of more than 30 deaths referred to the coroner believed to be the result of synthetic drug use.
In January police charged Gordon, now 23, with supplying synthetic drugs to a person.
He was sentenced this morning in the Waitakere District Court.
Today Judge Noel Sainsbury said the charge did not place any blame on Gordon for Jones' death.
He said he wanted to make it "very clear so there is no misunderstanding".
"He is not charged with causing the death of Calum Jones," he said.
"It is simply a charge of supply.
"I am sentencing on the charge before me within the parameters it has, I am constrained by the parameters of that charge."
Police said it was "well known" that Gordon had supplied Jones "shortly" before his death.
They said the supplying was premeditated and had a degree of commerciality and was deliberate.
"The defendant's actions cannot be attributed to the death of Calum Jones - but police submit the actions of the defendant helped to support and enable Mr Jones' addiction," the prosecutor told the court.
He said Jones' death was tragic.
"This and other cases like it clearly demonstrate and illustrate the extent of harm that is caused or can be caused by this substance."
The police summary of facts states that Gordon supplied Jones in the lead up to his death, in his bedroom of his family home in Henderson.
He admitted supplying Jones but denied doing so on the day he died.
Defence lawyer Karl Trotter said Gordon conceded meeting up with Jones the night before he died and "sharing" synthetic drugs.
Jones' sister Heather caught the pair and intervened, dragging Jones away.
She later messaged Gordon saying her brother was in rehab.
The court heard Jones text Gordon again the next morning and asked for more drugs.
They met and Gordon encouraged Jones to go back to rehab.
They parted and "no supply occurred".
Trotter said Gordon had been friends with Jones for 10 years - almost half their lives.
He said both were addicts.
"When Mr Jones was holding he would share synthetic [drugs] and vice versa," he said.
Trotter said his client's "interest" in synthetics started when the substances were legal.
"With that the addiction grew," he said.
As his addiction grew he had to turn to selling to afford to pay for his habit.
"He accepts that what he did contributed to the unhappiness of others, he accepts that unreservedly.
"His addiction at the time of the offending had reached such proportions that he was living in a car."
He was also estranged from his family and a relationship broke up at the time of offending.
Trotter said his client also told police who he was sourcing his synthetic drugs for and had been "co-operative" during their investigation.
He had "turned his life around" since his arrest, Trotter said, completing a community alcohol and drugs programme.
Letters of support from Gordon's employer and flatmate were presented to the court.
"To say Mr Gordon is remorseful is a complete understatement," said Trotter.
"There can't be any doubt of his efforts to maintain his sobriety to this day."
Judge Sainsbury said he was not able to sentence Gordon as if he was the person that caused the death of Jones.
"However, that death still features in this sentencing, still needs to be taken into account," he said.
He said it was "naive" to think that Jones was the only person Gordon supplied synthetics to.
He said the case was a "snapshot" of a pattern over time.
"It indicates to me that you were in the business of selling this drug," he said.
"This is in the classic category of an addict who sells as a way of supporting his own habit… caused your life to become so unstructured and unorganised.
""You are simply someone who addiction has got you by the throat."
Judge Sainsbury said it was "a matter of chance" who died after taking synthetics.
"The reality is you fed his addiction, and his addiction killed him - that is why Parliament made it an offence to supply this drug.
"That is why it is serious.
He said his young age, ability to change, rehabilitative steps already taken, "genuine remorse" and an early guilty plea reduced his sentence from a starting point of six months in prison.
"If you relapse into addiction the likely harm to the community is stark because inevitably you will return to the pattern of before.
"I cannot do anything to bring back Calum Jones nor can any sentence I impose in any way make up for his death.
"But I consider the best I can do is find the sentence that balances punishment and rehabilitation because I wish to avoid you being involved in offending that will cause damage to others and feed addiction of others."
Judge Sainsbury sentenced Gordon to three months' community detention and a further 18 months of intensive supervision and 100 hours community work.
"I am hoping you are genuine about changing your life," he said.
"You owe that at the very least to your friend and his family."
He also ordered Gordon to judicial monitoring to ensure he was complying with his conditions and sentences.
"If you are not, I will change them," he said.
Calum Jones: "a heart as big as the world"
A group of Jones' family - including his father Lewis and sister Heather - and close friends were in the courtroom for the hearing.
Members of Gordon's family also attended.
Sentencing was originally set for April 24 but did not go ahead.
The change in date meant Jones' mother Lorraine was unable to attend as she is overseas.
But she wrote a Victim Impact Statement that was read to the court by a family friend.
The statement was on behalf of herself, Jones' father Lewis and sister Heather.
"Calum loved life and had a heart as big as the world," the statement said.
"Our lives were thrown into turmoil and irreparably changed... when Calum passed away," she said.
"On that day we lost a loving son, brother, father, grandson, nephew, cousin and friend.
"For the past seven months I, along with my family have struggled with the pain, anger and grief of losing one so close to our hearts.
"Some days we managed to face our world without Calum and some days we just can't function at all."
She said since Jones died her family had been plagued with sleepless nights, nightmares, anxiety and depression.
"I still leave his bedroom light on for him when I go to bed and I lay awake listening for the familiar footsteps that I know will never come.
"Calum's sister turned 21 nine weeks after his passing - can you imagine what a bittersweet moment that was for us all?
"That celebration was followed by Christmas, New Year, Calum's birthday and his daughter's third birthday.
"Our attempts at happiness on these occasions were tainted by sadness and guilt because the festivities marked days that Calum was looking forward to and had made plans for.
"Never has his absence been more poignant than these moments."
Jones' family said they felt "robbed" of the chance to see him live a full life - get engaged and married and "grow into the man we always knew he would be".
They said Jones was "committed" to getting his life back on track so he could be "a better partner, son, brother and father to his beautiful little girl."
"He was compassionate, caring and loving.
"Calum was loyal to the people he loved and his family and friends were everything to him.
"We, as a family, have lost our way of being and every day has become another day we must get through without him."
Jones' family did not blame Gordon entirely for his death.
"While we realise that it was Calum's addiction that ended his young life, we cannot help but feel resentment towards the dealer," they said.
"What these dealers fail to understand is that although to them it's just another sale, the lasting effects that synthetic drugs has on families is catastrophic.
"Suppliers of synthetic substances need to comprehend that an addict's life is worth more than $20 to the family and friends that are left behind."
Judge Sainsbury said he "could not put that better".
"The harm that addiction does is wider than the harm it does to the addict - it affects the family," he said.
"Calum Jones' mother was very insightful and in many ways extraordinarily really fair in the way she summarised this.
"I really couldn't do better than to repeat what she said."
No comment from offender
Today's sentencing was not the first time Gordon has appeared before the court.
According to his court file, which the Herald was granted permission to access, his first appearance was in November 2016.
He was convicted of refusing to give police a blood specimen, fined $750 and disqualified from driving for six months.
Then in March 2017 he was fined $500 and disqualified from driving for six months for driving while disqualified.
The Herald sought comment from Gordon and his parents through his lawyer.
"Mr Gordon wishes me to make it clear that under no circumstances - prior to, or post sentencing - will he be interviewed," Trotter said.