A British drug dealer taken down by Queenstown police’s text message trawling looks set to go home a free man rather than finish his sentence.
Nicholas Anthony Falconbridge was sentenced to 16 months’ imprisonment in February after admitting selling more than $12,000 of cannabis in the resort.
He’s one of about a dozen dealers sentenced in the last year, with cops using text messages as their main evidence.
Falconbridge was told he’d be able to swap his jail term for a period of home detention if a suitable address could be found.
The 26-year-old’s lawyer Joseph Mooney, at Queenstown District Court last Monday, successfully applied to have his jail sentence cancelled.
It was replaced by Judge Michael Turner with five months’ home detention at a Queenstown holiday park cabin.
But, because Falconbridge’s working holiday visa expired while he was in prison, he’s now in the country illegally.
Turner says: “It is my understanding you will shortly be deported by Immigration New Zealand.”
A High Court decision means Turner can’t revisit and possibly change his original sentencing decision.
Falconbridge admitted buying three ounces of the class C-controlled drug at least twice a month and selling to five or six other people, although he claimed he made no profit.
One buyer dobbed him in when caught by cops himself and police examined Falconbridge’s text message history to reveal the extent of his offending.
Queenstown detectives have so far declined to comment directly on the cases as they continue to bring alleged dealers before the courts.