While the personal circumstances of drug offenders usually carried little weight at sentencing, an exception could be made in the case of a man whose use of cannabis increased for medicinal purposes, Gisborne District Court heard.
Shane Arthur Barber, 39, was previously found guilty by Judge John Bergseng of possession of cannabis for supply.
Judge Bergseng said the offending was serious. It had involved under-18-year-olds as well as a significant amount of money.
But he ruled there should be no forfeiture of two sums of cash totalling $2840, found during a police search of Barber’s house.
There was insufficient evidence to prove it had come from anywhere other than, say, withdrawals made by Barber from his own bank account.
Barber appeared for sentence by Judge Cathcart who imposed eight months home detention to be followed by six months special conditions.
Setting the sentence starting point at 20 months, Judge Cathcart allowed a reduction of four months for Barber’s personal circumstances.
He noted counsel Riki Donnelly’s submissions that Barber, who had already used cannabis recreationally, increased that use for medicinal purposes after suffering a serious head injury.
The injury left him unable to work and suffering ongoing neck pain and headaches.
Barber had turned to selling cannabis to support his own need for it, Mr Donnelly said.
The court heard that during the police search of Barber’s house last November, officers found 10 tinnies hidden in a plastic torch body in his bedroom and an “ounce” bag of cannabis head in his laundry.
They also found the cash.
Mr Donnelly said while Barber had previous cannabis related convictions — for cultivation of the drug in 2002 and possession of it in 1992 and 1993, there was no commerciality about any of those offences.
The significant gap since the last offence might have indicated a change in Barber’s character until the time of his injury.
Judge Cathcart agreed this sentence should not include any uplift for those earlier offences.