A formerly homeless woman who was the subject of a public protest by a Dunedin MP has been convicted of drug offences.

Amy Leigh Stuart, 26, was one of two women receiving emergency accommodation in motels who prompted Clare Curran to pitch her tent in the Octagon in July last year.

There was some online backlash at the time about the women's lifestyle but Curran said that was irrelevant.

Her outdoor remonstration ended after four nights when the Ministry of Social Development found Stuart stable accommodation.


Less than six months later, police raided the woman's house where they found two cannabis plants (about 34cm tall) growing outside in a bucket along with a couple of seedlings.

There were another two seedlings indoors on the window sill and a further search of the address turned up 0.05g of the class A drug methamphetamine.

There was no evidence of commerciality, Judge Dominic Flatley acknowledged.

Stuart pleaded guilty to cultivating cannabis, possession of methamphetamine and breaching a previous sentence of community work.

Her counsel, Steve Turner, said the offending was "unsophisticated" and was a symptom of his client's addiction problems.

Stuart was in danger of serving a prison term when she did not turn up to a pre-sentence meeting with Probation.

But the court heard her absence was explained by a bid to escape associates and detox effort including a trip to Christchurch.

Clare Curran at her protest camp in the Octago in support of two young mothers without a home.
Clare Curran at her protest camp in the Octago in support of two young mothers without a home.

Judge Flatley noted Stuart now had a place to live where she was supported.


Turner said the defendant welcomed counselling to target her addiction but no further punitive sentence was required.

However, the judge said that would send the wrong message to the community.

He sentenced Stuart to four months' community detention at a Green Island address as well as 12 months' intensive supervision.

The defendant told the court she was starting an eight-week course next week but the judge said something more rigorous could be needed.

"You need to deal with those addiction problems and if what's required is a residential programme then that should happen," Judge Flatley said.

He also imposed judicial monitoring, which meant he would receive three-monthly reports on Stuart's progress.