Powerful warnings about some of the dangers of methamphetamine have been issued by a judge in separate and unrelated Napier District Court cases minutes apart, jailing two men with almost no previous offences.
Judge Geoff Rea was confounded particularly yesterday by the appearance of 56-year-old Brent Rodney Cotton.
Cotton had no previous convictions but found himself being sentenced to two years and three months in jail after admitting possessing 47 grams of methamphetamine for supply — about 10 times the legal threshold between having meth for person use and having it for supply or sales.
Minutes earlier Judge Rea sentenced 31-year-old Andrew Dean Farquhar to two years and four months in prison for a string of offences driven by meth addiction and including burglaries of people's homes, with a history of only one previous conviction, albeit for aggravated robbery.
Farquhar had pleaded guilty to four charges of burglary, three of receiving stolen property, two each of theft, shoplifting, and unlawfully using documents, three of failing to answer bail, and one of possessing utensils for the use of methamphetamine.
Judge Rea told Farquhar his offending, mainly with a female associated he had legged-up to windows to enter premises in the burglaries, was bizarre, but there were indications that steps taken in the seven months on remand were addressing the issues behind the offending, which involved thefts of well over $10,000 worth of property, some of which Farquhar tried to sell at a lawn shop and some of which had not been recovered.
But the judge said the proof of Farquhar's intentions was still to come — "when you get out".
Soon afterwards the judge told Cotton that if he had been listening he would have heard of some of the effects of meth use and dealing.
Cotton's offending was discovered on March 2 only as he made a statement to police as the owner of a vehicle reported to have been forcibly taken during the previous week, while he was away working and while a friend was authorised to use the vehicle.
Cotton also discussed with the officer issues he and a group of friends were having battling methamphetamine addictions.
Asked if he had any drugs at the time, Cotton revealed a small amount in a backpack and police then found a coffee jar containing the bulk of the methamphetamine.
Judge Rea, telling Cotton no judge would be happy imprisoning a 56-year-old with no previous convictions, believed Cotton had little appreciation of the scene he had entered, claiming to have had the meth for use among a group of friends without any form of commercial operation.
"Whether you see it as dealing or not is beside the point," Judge Rea said. "The vast majority was for the use by other people. Once you pass it on you've got no control as to what happens then."