A woman who safe-housed more than a kilogram of methamphetamine and more than $250,000 for a major drug ring has been cited by a Hawke's Bay judge as a "poster-child" for people's falls from grace through use of the drug – including being sent to jail.
With no previous convictions, 31-year-old Sarah Megan Gambirazzi was arrested after a search of her Haumoana home amid the culmination of police investigation Operation Chrome in August 2018. She was sentenced to three years when she appeared before Judge Geoff Rea in Napier District Court on Friday.
The finding of the cash became a second big blow to a drugs ring which had been bringing methamphetamine into Hawke's Bay from outside the region.
Another $250,000 had been lost when a previous safe storage house was burgled.
Gambirazzi, who had moved to the Hastings area from Wairoa, appeared via audio visual link from jail, represented in court by counsel Keela Peta.
She had previously pleaded guilty to one charge of possessing methamphetamine for supply, two of possessing pipes for the use of methamphetamine, and one of careless driving.
Crown prosecutor Clayton Walker said it was accepted the offences were driven by addiction to methamphetamine.
Walker said it was pleasing to see she was taking steps to turn her life around, and added: "It's been a terrible fall for her."
Judge Rea said it was "sad to say" that Gambirazzi had become "something of a poster-child" for what could be the impact of becoming involved in the drugs scene and methamphetamine use.
She previously led a stable life, but her descent into the methamphetamine scene led her to "a cell in Auckland Women's [prison]".
The court was told that after the collapse of one safe house because of its burglary and theft of $250,000, senior members of the group engaged Gambirazzi to store drugs and cash at her home.
It included about 1kg at one time, and on another she would have stored a similar amount had she, as planned by the group, gone to Taupo to collect drugs for delivery in Hawke's Bay, because she would not attract suspicious attention.
When her home was searched, 446g of methamphetamine, and about $250,000 was found in a locked toolbox in a wardrobe.
The Judge noted that even after a sentence indication hearing, Gambirazzi became involved in methamphetamine use again.
But he said there was "no doubt" the offences were driven by addiction to methamphetamine.
"I accept you were badly addicted to the drug."