Meth user’s lenient sentence to avoid deportation to NZ
ROCKHAMPTON'S Supreme court judge has gone against precedent cases for possessing more than two grams of methamphetamines to stop Immigration deporting a New Zealand offender.
The Federal Government made changes to the Migration Act in 2014 but it has only become a hot issue between Australia's and New Zealand's governments in the past year.
The changes allowed Immigration to eject New Zealanders if they were sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, among other reasons for ejection.
Te Kauru Nohotima, 46, pleaded guilty today (July 16) in the Supreme Court in Rockhampton to one count of possessing meth in excess of two grams and one of supplying meth.
Crown prosecutor Edward Fleetwood said Nohotima had no drug convictions prior to being charged for possessing meth in excess of two grams on May 3, 2018, in Gladstone.
The supply charge was dated September 27, 2018.
Mr Fleetwood said Nohotima had 2.917g of pure meth in his possession, but the Crown did not allege it was for commercial use.
He said similar cases resulted in defendants being sentenced to 18 months prison.
Justice Graeme Crow asked defence barrister Scott Moon if a suspended 18-month prison term would impact Nohotima's visa situation.
"Even if the court ordered sentences to be served concurrently, Immigration looks at totality," Mr Moon said.
The court heard Nohotima had moved to Australia in 2013 and turned to using meth after arriving home one day to find his wife and four children had disappeared.
Mr Moon said his client had rehabilitated and had a new partner.
Nohotima was the driver in a vehicle intercepted by police on Tooloola St, Gladstone, at 1.45am on May 3. His passenger was recognised by police as a known offender.
Police searched the car and its occupants, finding 0.5g meth in a footwell, plus a box in a bag which contained clip seal bags, meth, scales and straws.
Then, on October 4, police searched a Marble St, Gladstone, residence with Nohotima's housemate's name on the search warrant.
A mobile phone seized during the search had Facebook messages on it showing Nohotima offering to supply 0.3g of meth.
Justice Crow said he was concerned that if he sentenced Nohotima to a prison term of more than 12 months, his visa would be cancelled and he would be returned to New Zealand which would make his situation worse.
"It's a difficult decision to make," he said.
"The precedent (cases) all suggest 18 months … but they don't have the visa situation you have."
CASES OF OTHER NEW ZEALAND CRIMINALS FACING DEPORTATION:
Justice Crow pointed out that Nohotima being in his 40s before being charged for his first drug offence was unusual, and there was no money exchanged in the drug supply facts.
He ordered Nohotima to 11 months prison released immediately on parole.