An MP pushing for harsher penalties for people convicted of supplying synthetic drugs says the sentence handed down to a West Auckland man in relation to the death of young dad Calum Jones was "incredibly light".
Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown said the case showed exactly why current laws around synthetic drug manufacturers and suppliers needed to be tightened.
Jonathan Gordon, 23, was sentenced to community detention, intensive supervision, community work and judicial monitoring yesterday in the Waitakere District Court.
The sentence came after he admitted supplying synthetic drugs to Calum Jones, 22, who died soon after using the substance in September 2017.
The father-of-one had been battling an addiction to synthetics for years and had only been home from full-time rehab for one day when he died.
As a result of a police investigation into Jones' death, Gordon was charged with supplying a psychoactive substance to a person.
During sentencing, Judge Noel Sainsbury said Gordon was not charged with causing the death of Jones - it was simply a charge of supplying the drug.
He said while Gordon did not cause Jones' death, he enabled his addiction which ultimately killed him.
He said he had to sentence Gordon within the parameters of the charge.
Gordon was sentenced to three months' community detention, followed by 18 months of intensive supervision.
He was ordered to complete 100 hours of community work and will be subject to judicial monitoring, meaning he must appear regularly before Judge Sainsbury.
If Judge Sainsbury finds Gordon is not complying with his sentence, he can change it and order something more severe.
"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," he said.
The maximum penalty for a person convicted of supplying synthetics in New Zealand is two years' imprisonment.
But Brown has a bill before Parliament seeking an increase to eight years.
Jones' family support the bill and are backing Brown in his mission to get tougher on those supplying synthetics.
Brown said today Gordon's sentence was "incredibly light".
"This ruling makes it clear that the current law needs to be strengthened to ensure drug manufacturers and suppliers are properly sentenced and adequately deterred from dealing these increasingly harmful drugs," he said.
"Home detention could have such a minimal impact that this person may be back to dealing drugs before the sentence is even finished.
"This simply isn't good enough."
In March, Brown's bill passed its first reading with the support of National and NZ First - the first time this term that the parties have joined forces.
"I am urging the Government to support it when it returns to the House for its second and third readings," Brown said.
"My heart goes out to Calum Jones' family.
"I hope that we can effect a change which will deter the supply of these drugs and help make our communities safe from these peddlers of misery."
Jones' death is one of more than 30 currently before the Coroner believed to be the result of synthetics.
A Victim Impact Statement written by Jones' mother Lorraine on behalf of herself, his father Lewis and sister Heather, was read to the court by a family friend and outlined the huge impact his death has had on their family.
It also gave insight into the wider impact synthetic drugs have beyond those using the substances.
"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," the statement said.
"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 have on families is catastrophic.
"Suppliers of synthetic substances need to comprehend that an addict's life is worth more than 20 dollars to the family and friends that are left behind."