Man denies trips north used to source drugs

Invercargill District Court.

AN Otago man who made five trips to Auckland between March and November 2020, posting 109gm of methamphetamine and 28gm of MDMA to his own address on one trip, says he was not sourcing drugs, a Southland court has been told.

The 33-year-old, who has interim name suppression, appeared last Wednesday to defend a charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply in the Invercargill District Court.

He has already pleaded guilty to possession of a controlled drug for supply (representative charge), possession of cannabis, possession of methamphetamine, possession of MDMA for supply, two charges of unlawful possession of a firearm, and two charges of unlawful possession of ammunition.

The case is being heard by a judge only.

If Judge Peter Rollo finds the man not guilty on the defended charge, he will be convicted of possession of a controlled drug as an alternative charge, with an already intimated guilty plea.

An admission of facts document says police started a comprehensive investigation into the suspected drug dealer in August 2020.

During March and November of that year he travelled to Auckland five times – often booking late – either the day before travelling or the day of travel.

On August 9, he booked a one-way flight to Auckland then drove from there back to his Otago home crossing on the inter-islander ferry the following day.

On November 4, the man and his partner flew to Auckland.

When questioned by defence counsel Roger Eagles today, the man said he had made the November trip to do some work for a friend.

While there, he was asked by another friend to buy a courier bag.

The man said he put one gift-wrapped package in the bag, with another two being put in the courier bag by others. He did not know what was contained in the packages, he said.

He then posted the bag back to his own address, although he said it was his partner who wrote the address on it.

When the man and his partner returned home on November 6, he was arrested by police at the airport.

The admission of facts document says a search warrant was then executed on his property where police found a double-barrelled shotgun and pump action shotgun, both which had been illegally modified, as well as 102g of cannabis head, 5.7g of methamphetamine and what police believed to be a “ticklist”.

“It contained the names of persons police believe to be purchasers. On this list were figures in the amounts of $65,250 and $54,000.”

He refused to supply police with the access code to his cellphone.

The courier bag sent from Auckland was intercepted. In it police found two bags containing methamphetamine, one weighing 27.6g and the other 81.8g. The third bag contained 28gm of MDMA.

While giving evidence last Wednesday, the man said packages were sent about four times to his home by a friend in Auckland.

Although they were sent to his address, the man said it was another resident who would pick them up from his letterbox and he did not even see them.

There was only one time when he took the parcel out of the letterbox.

Just after the man had lost his job, his friend had gifted him $1000 then asked him to do a favour, delivering a parcel to Invercargill.

“I just helped out,” he said.

It was on this occasion, in August 2020, he found out it was MDMA being sent.

“That was the last one I was involved with,” he said.

Under cross-examination, Crown prosecutor Mike Brownlie asked the man if the trips to Auckland were to sort out the delivery of drugs.

The man replied: “No”.

Judge Rollo reserved his decision and remanded the man in custody to appear on May 24. He ordered interim name suppression to continue until sentencing.