Meth dealer scores home de­ten­tion

Marlborough Express - - NEWS - JEN­NIFER EDER

A man who used co­de­names in­clud­ing ‘‘gar­lic bread’’ and ‘‘chicken’’ to sell cannabis and metham­phetamine is off drugs for the first time in years, a court has heard.

Blenheim man Charles Wiremu Maru sold the drugs 16 times last Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber, a po­lice sum­mary of facts said.

He was sell­ing the drugs to pay for his own drug habit, his lawyer Rob Har­ri­son said at his sen­tenc­ing at the Blenheim District Court on Tues­day.

But since be­ing charged Maru had passed sev­eral urine tests, Har­ri­son said.

Po­lice said they first be­came aware Maru was sell­ing drugs in Septem­ber last year and be­gan mon­i­tor­ing his text mes­sages.

The 36-year-old would some­times text peo­ple to tell them he had drugs to sell, and some­times peo­ple would text Maru to ask if he was sell­ing a par­tic­u­lar drug.

‘‘Do you want a tin?’’ Maru asked a friend on Septem­ber 20, the sum­mary said. The word tin, or tinny, was widely used to de­scribe 1 to 2 grams of cannabis wrapped in tin foil, which usu­ally sold for $20, the sum­mary said.

From there, co­de­names be­came more cre­ative. On Septem­ber 29, a per­son asked Maru for ‘‘toast’’, which re­ferred to cannabis, and an­other asked for ‘‘puff’’, which re­ferred to metham­phetamine, po­lice said.

They set­tled on a price of $550 for half a gram of metham­phetamine.

Later, the same per­son asked if he could get a ‘‘Q’’, or a quar­ter gram of metham­phetamine, po­lice said.

On Oc­to­ber 2, Maru text mes­saged a per­son to say he was try­ing to sell ‘‘ding’’. ’’Is da gar­lic bread a good size?’’ the per­son asked.

‘‘Skunk,’’ Maru replied. Skunk was a type of cannabis grown un­der in­door lights, po­lice said.

Maru sold cannabis and metham­phetamine on eight other oc­ca­sions dur­ing Oc­to­ber us­ing terms such as ’’pool que’’ and ‘‘chicken’’ in ref­er­ence to metham­phetamine.

When spo­ken to by po­lice, Maru ad­mit­ted he was us­ing co­de­names.

He ad­mit­ted six charges of of­fer­ing to sell metham­phetamine, and 10 of of­fer­ing to sell cannabis in Fe­bru­ary and ap­peared for sen­tenc­ing on Tues­day.

Maru had no re­cent drug of­fences in the last decade and noth­ing in­volv­ing metham­phetamine.

Maru had strug­gled with drugs and al­co­hol for years but had been clean for five months, Har­ri­son said.

An al­co­hol and drug re­port said Maru was de­ter­mined to change, and showed in­ter­est in at­tend­ing a res­i­den­tial re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme, Har­ri­son said.

‘‘I’m bol­stered by the sug­ges­tion you are do­ing some­thing about it,’’ Judge David Ruth said.

‘‘That tells me you have been mak­ing some progress to­wards an even­tual re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion.’’

Quit­ting drugs ‘‘wiped out’’ Maru’s mo­ti­va­tion to sell them, Judge Ruth said.

But af­ter giv­ing credit for a guilty plea Judge Ruth set­tled on a sen­tence of 18 months’ imprisonment, con­verted to nine months’ home de­ten­tion.

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