Drug dealer’s jail term cut

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A Queenstown drug dealer’s sentence of two years in prison has been cut by four months on appeal.

Benjamin Luke Gillard, 29, a UK citizen in New Zealand on a working visa, was sentenced in the Queenstown District Court in September after admitting a representative count of offering to supply a class C drug, cannabis, a representative count of possession of a class C drug for supply and one count of possession of a class B drug for supply. 

However, the High Court has upheld an appeal by a Queenstown-based landscape gardener, and his earlier sentence of two years’ imprisonment on drug-related charges has been cut by four months. 

After an appeal heard in the High Court at Invercargill on Tuesday, Justice Jillian Mallon gave an oral judgement, noting the sentence had been appealed as being ”manifestly excessive”. 

Leave had also been sought to apply for home detention if a suitable address could be secured. 

It had also been submitted for the police that the initial starting point for sentencing, of two years’ imprisonment, had been ”too lenient”. 

But Justice Mallon found that the starting point adopted was ”not overly lenient”. 

She noted that the ”small scale of offending” in this case was more comparable with other cases in which a two-year starting point had been adopted. 

The appeal had, partly, been over an effective ”uplift” of eight months from the starting point because of a single offer to supply at class B drug. 

Justice Mallon said that a study of previous cases showed this increase was ”too great”, given the ”relatively minor nature of the offending”, and two months would have been sufficient. 

There were many examples in whch home detention had been ordered in respect of cannabis offending of ”broadly similar seriousness”. 

At the time of initial sentencing, the court did not grant leave to apply for home detention because there was ”no prospect of a suitable address”. 

As a relatively young man and first offender who was accepted by the district court judge as being remorseful, home detention had been an available sentence if a suitable address had been available at that stage.

Information received recently indicated that Gillard was unwell and had apparently been declining treatment for his condition in prison.

Under these circumstances, Justice Mallon was not in a position to consider home detention as an appropriate sentence, and was therefore not granting leave to apply for that to be substituted.

The appeal over sentence was allowed, the sentence quashed, and a sentence of one year and eight months substituted in its place, involving concurrent terms on the class C charges.

A sentence of two months imprisonment, also to be served concurrently, was imposed on the class B charge.

Otago Daily Times