The first Wanganui shopkeeper to be sentenced under the controversial "legal highs" law has been told she took advantage of others for personal gain.
Lina Fan, the 49 year old owner of the Alma Rd Dairy, was fined nearly $3000 and ordered to pay costs when she appeared in the Whanganui District Court yesterday.
She received the dressing-down from Judge Dugald Matheson after admitting five charges of selling from a dairy and selling non-approved substances from her shop.
Judge Matheson told Fan she had "fudged" her situation when she made her application for an interim licence to sell legal highs, as she had made a separate sales room in her dairy when the legislation expressly forbids dairies from selling the substances.
He also had strong words for Fan's sale of non-approved substances in her Gonville shop.
"These changes in the laws of New Zealand were put in place to protect the community and those in the community who feel the need to rely on substances to keep themselves afloat.
"You took advantage of these people for your own personal gain."
Fan was convicted and fined a total of $2950 and was ordered to pay court costs of $130 on each of the five charges. Judge Matheson also ordered the destruction of the non-approved substances seized from her shop.
The Chronicle understands that Fan will not reapply for her licence to sell psychoactive substances, which was suspended after her arrest, and that she has no intention to sell such items again.
Defence counsel Debbie Goodlet said the subject of "legal highs" was a "heated subject in this community at the moment" and objected to the Chronicle's application to take photographs of her client in court, citing safety concerns.
"The location of her store has been publicised in the media, she is often in sole charge, and any photograph identifying her would inflame the situation further."
Judge Matheson said the case was one of "legitimate public interest" and said the issue of safety went "both ways".
"Anything I impose on you today will pale into insignificance in comparison to the publicity you have already received as this case has gone through the court, however these charges were laid in the appropriate way to enforce a law imposed by Parliament to protect the community.
"The publicity of these law changes were brought to your attention and you didn't take heed of what was put your way."