Queenstown high school probes pupil’s drug dealing

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A headmaster says an internal investigation is underway after a pupil admitted dealing cannabis to classmates on school grounds.

Wakatipu High School principal Steve Hall moved to reassure parents after the 17-year-old boy pleaded guilty in Queenstown District Court on Monday to supplying the class C-controlled drug.

He won’t rule out bag searches in future but only in coordination with police and for specific cases rather than school-wide.

Hall says police alerted the school last year.

“Clearly we’re disappointed that things like this happen,” Hall says.

“We’re dealing with young people and things like this do happen, people make choices like this.

“But this is not the kind of thing we want happening for our young people and at our school.

“In terms of dealing with serious things like this in school there are very defined processes that you have to go through in terms of investigations and disciplinary processes.

“So we’ll conclude this investigation and see what the story is as it pertains to Wakatipu High School and where we go from there.”

Arrowtowner Jessy Wilson-Rowe admitted supplying cannabis to pupils between August 29 and November 20, 2014. His defence lawyer Tim Cadogan says he’ll apply for a discharge without conviction.

Police found a text from Wilson-Rowe to his alleged supplier, dated August 28, asking for cannabis.

Prosecuting sergeant Ian Collin told the Queenstown District Court Wilson-Rowe stated in a subsequent text that a “couple of people at school” wanted the drug.

Wilson-Rowe said he wanted to buy “six” and the transaction with the alleged supplier was completed on school grounds, Collin says. Wilson-Rowe was again contacted by the alleged supplier, aged 18, on September 5 and arranged to buy “five”.

He admitted to police that he bought $50 bags of cannabis.

“He stated he bought two bags on behalf of two 16-year-old school friends and passed them on,” Collin says.

“Two others gave him $50 each, he bought a bag from his supplier for them.”

A $100 bag typically contains eight grams of cannabis.

Drugs education forms part of Wakatipu High’s health and physical education programme.

When asked if it’s an isolated case, Hall says: “Look, this happens in schools, like it happens in society.

“I feel we’ve been really clear and very vigilant about drugs, alcohol and tobacco in school and have made a real effort to be on top of this.

“We’ll see what the facts of this one are. It definitely feels isolated; this doesn’t feel common at all.”

Hall says he’s told the school’s board of trustees chairman Alistair Nicholson about the case.

Cadogan told the court Wilson-Rowe is “a good person who’s come from a bad background” but was attempting to get his life back on track.

Judge Michael Turner says prison is a “real possibility” as drug dealing is a serious offence, especially to school children on school grounds.

Wilson-Rowe was remanded on bail until March 23. Turner, who rejected an application for name suppression, ordered a pre-sentence report with home detention as an option.

Hall says: “We have wonderful young people in our school but young people do things from time to time we wouldn’t want them to do.”

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz