Otago Daily Times
Awardwinning musician sent to jail
AN awardwinning musician who robbed his bandmate and was dealing drugs for several months has been jailed for more than three years.
Alexander Francis Cochrane (18) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to seven drugs charges, comprising class A, B and C substances.
Judge Emma Smith jailed the teen for three years and four months and said nothing short of imprisonment was sufficient to mark the crimes.
Yesterday’s sentencing came just two and ahalf years after guitarist Cochrane won an individual musicianship award at the national Smokefreerockquest finals in Auckland.
His Taieri College band Bark Like a Dog — who boasted a number one song on New Zealand iTunes — was among the top six acts in the country in 2018.
But Cochrane’s musical prowess masked the demons beneath.
The court heard yesterday that he started using drugs at 12 after the suicide of a friend and that escalated dangerously in 2019.
By the start of 2020, the teenager was dealing but police only found out following a violent incident on June 15.
Cochrane, who had since joined another band, went to the North Dunedin home of a fellow musician, where he demanded $10,000.
When the 25yearold man lunged for the phone, Cochrane punched him 10 times and threw him against the wall, shattering a mirror.
There were further blows before the defendant and an associate made off with electronics worth $6000.
As he left, Cochrane said the address had been “marked” and that gang members would be visiting.
Later, when interviewed by police, he said he had built up anger towards the victim because he had been the one who introduced him to drugs.
With Cochrane’s phone in their possession, police obtained a warrant to examine it.
Once analysts gained access to the device, the scale of the defendant’s drugdealing became clear.
In the Notes section of the phone, Cochrane had lists of drugs and dates, and there was even a file entitled “Tick List” featuring the names of people who owed him money and their debt.
Most were in the hundreds, the court heard, but one seemingly owed him $10,000.
Among the illicit substances Cochrane had sold, or offered to sell, were LSD, magic mushrooms, DMT (a psychedelic), ecstasy, ketamine and cannabis.
Defence counsel Alan de Jager said the offending had been driven by his client’s drug addiction combined with his mental health issues.
Cochrane, he said, had since been engaged in counselling and there were letters from family members attesting to the strides he had made.
If the teen was sentenced to home detention, there was a plan in place with Specialist Addiction Services to get him into residential rehabilitation in Christchurch afterwards, Mr de Jager said.
While Judge Smith accepted the psychological issues were legitimate, she highlighted a report from a clinician which suggested Cochrane had overstated his issues.
The defendant was ordered to pay the victim of the robbery $4000.