A teenager has narrowly avoided jail for drug-dealing because a judge says he was concerned he might become an inmate's "plaything''.
Corey Richard Vincent, 18, of Ohauiti was caught offering to sell and supply methamphetamine and cannabis after police obtained warrants to search his text message records from June and July this year.
Yesterday, he appeared before Judge Thomas Ingram in Tauranga District Court for sentence.
Defence lawyer Craig Tuck urged the judge to take into account Vincent's age and immaturity, and said he was "easily led and boundless'' but with the right guidance and a structured regime of rehabilitative programmes he could be "led in the right direction''.
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Judge Ingram told Vincent that he had "serious misgivings'' that he could comply with a home detention sentence but said he was prepared to give him a chance.
While jail was "well justified'', he held grave concerns for Vincent's safety if he did send him there.
"The difficulty is your age and size, and I have no doubt you would quickly become someone's plaything in there. And when you get out, someone will come knocking on your door and they will tell you what they want you to do for them and you won't be able to say no.''
Judge Ingram sentenced Vincent to 12 months' home detention and 400 hours' community work in lieu of $8000 worth of fines.