Weed suppliers fuelled by greed

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A German national who apparently funded his stay in Queenstown by selling drugs is now a guest of Her Majesty, having been sentenced to 26 months in the slammer.

Sven Stephan Harrieder, 30, had previously admitted possession of cannabis for supply, possession of LSD and failing to help a cop exercise a search, while his mate, Justin Christopher Hamilton, 25, admitted possession of cannabis for supply following a drug bust
at Deco Backpackers on June 25.

In court last Monday, Judge Bernadette Farnan decided ‘‘by a fine margin’’ to convert a 21-month prison sentence for Hamilton to six months’ community detention, 350 hours’ community work and six months’ supervision, with special conditions.

The pair had been staying at the Man Street backpackers through the Covid-19 lockdown.

Police raided the property in relation to the suspected supply of Class A, B and C-controlled drugs.

In Harrieder’s room, police found cannabis, packaged into various-sized ziplock bags, with an estimated street value of between $27,000 and $55,000.

They also found $117,826 in cash — in New Zealand, American and Australian currencies — 10 tabs of LSD, four cellphones and a laptop.

Farnan said while cops were executing the search warrant, 45 notifications were received on the devices, but Harrieder refused to cough up the passcode.

In Hamilton’s room, cops found 92.64g of cannabis, with an estimated street value of between $1158 and $2300, and almost $12,000 in cash.

His lawyer, Joseph Mooney, said Hamilton had been in Queenstown about a year and had been a ‘‘law-abiding citizen for most of that”.

Community detention: Justin Christopher Hamilton, 25, of Germany

“He’s been caught in … the Covid-19 devastation.

‘‘He made some stupid choices about how he survived, and he acknowledges that.’’

Hamilton told a presentence report writer he wasn’t thinking about the consequences while he was dealing drugs.

After his arrest he ‘‘immediately questioned his actions’’.

After he lost his job he turned to drug-dealing to cover the cost of his own habit, but the dealing grew.

He then used cannabis as his main source of income.

Harrieder gave a similar excuse, but Farnan was unconvinced.

‘‘While I accept you may have sold some cannabis to fund [personal use], I can only conclude … you were [selling] for commercial purposes.

‘‘You were operating a business for profit.’’

References given to the court referred to Harrieder’s ‘‘generosity’’.

One described his offending as ‘‘a simple mistake’’, which Farnan didn’t accept.

‘‘You did not work during your … stay in New Zealand, which would make the court
wonder how you supported yourself during the period, and whether you had any legitimate means to support yourself.

‘‘This was not low-level supply or sale to fuel an addiction.

‘‘It was offending fuelled by greed which may well have got out of control.’’

His release is subject to a parole board hearing.

The sentencings for both men should serve as a message to other ‘‘like-minded overseas nationals’’, she said.

‘‘Such offending will not be tolerated.’’