Drugs, cash were presents, court told

Invercargill District Court.

A MONGREL Mob member told police the five bags of methamphetamine and more than $600 found in a bag he was carrying were birthday presents from friends, a court heard on Tuesday.

Liam Johnston (30) was sentenced to 20 months’ jail when he appeared for sentence before Judge Peter Rollo in the Invercargill District Court on possession of methamphetamine for supply, possession of drug utensils, possession of ammunition and breach of parole conditions, all on March 4 this year.

After Johnston was released from prison, and while still on release conditions, police became aware he was dealing methamphetamine.

About 4.50pm on March 4, police stopped Johnston as he was leaving a central Invercargill store and arrested him.

“Located in a bum bag the defendant was carrying were five bags of methamphetamine of varying quantities, the total net weight of the drugs was 2 grams,” a summary of facts said.

Police also found electronic scales, clean small zip lock bags and $625.

After his arrest, police searched Johnston’s car and room at a boarding house.

They located another set of scales in the car and 27 rounds of .22 ammunition, more zip lock bags and a methamphetamine pipe.

The summary said Johnston told police that he was a methamphetamine addict, that it had been his birthday the previous day, and he had been given the drugs and cash as presents from associates.

“He told police that the electronic scales were to ensure that when he purchased methamphetamine he wasn’t ripped off and that the clean unused bags were used by him to ration it into daily amounts so that he didn’t smoke the methamphetamine all at once.”

Judge Rollo said Johnston had a good upbringing where he didn’t want for anything, but things went awry in his later teen years.

Johnston now had aspirations to become a carpet layer.

“There are prospects for you to change your lifestyle for the better, with support from those around you.”

Judge Rollo made it a prison release condition that Johnston was not to associate with Mongrel Mob members when released from jail and ordered the drug paraphernalia be destroyed.