Judge: Meth is the new cash

Waikato Times - - National News - Marty Sharpe

The use of metham­phetamine and cannabis as cur­rency for stolen goods is so com­mon, it has be­come an every­day fea­ture at most courts, a judge claims.

Judge Tony Adeane made the re­mark while sen­tenc­ing Wil­liam Stuthridge, 50, in the Napier Dis­trict Court on Fri­day.

Po­lice searched Stuthridge’s house in late Septem­ber last year, fol­low­ing a spate of res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial bur­glar­ies in the area.

They found $10,000 worth of stolen items.

When Stuthridge was searched po­lice lo­cated 4 grams of metham­phetamine in four in­di­vid­ual bags.

They also found snaplock bags con­tain­ing 84g of cannabis, 1285g of frozen cannabis leaf, sev­eral scales and empty point bags.

Stuthridge pleaded guilty to charges of pos­ses­sion of cannabis and metham­phetamine for sup­ply, and re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty.

Judge Adeane said the com­bi­na­tion of charges in­volv­ing re­ceiv­ing stolen goods and pos­ses­sion for drugs for sup­ply ‘‘rep­re­sents more than the sum of its in­di­vid­ual parts’’.

He said, tra­di­tion­ally, the charge of re­ceiv­ing in­volved the pur­chase of stolen goods with cash at below value prices.

‘‘This fa­cil­i­tated the ca­reers of pro­fes­sional bur­glars and thieves, and the ju­di­cial re­sponse to it was cal­cu­lated ac­cord­ingly,’’ Judge Adeane said.

He said it was rea­son­able to in­fer from Stuthridge’s of­fend­ing that drugs – in­clud­ing the ‘‘highly

The com­bi­na­tion of charges ... ‘‘rep­re­sents more than the sum of its in­di­vid­ual parts’’.

ad­dic­tive sub­stance metham­phetamine’’ – had taken the place of cash as the bur­glar’s re­ward for stolen prop­erty.

This meant the of­fend­ing had ‘‘a par­tic­u­larly per­ni­cious as­pect’’ in that it en­cour­aged ad­dic­tion and prop­erty theft as a so­lu­tion to fund­ing the ad­dic­tion.

‘‘This kind of ac­tiv­ity where thefts are com­mit­ted for metham­phetamine is at the heart of the anec­do­tal ex­pe­ri­ence of most judges daily,’’ Judge Adeane said.

He noted a pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer’s re­port that said Stuthridge was in a set­tled re­la­tion­ship and his part­ner was soon to give birth.

He also noted that Stuthridge had a 35-year crim­i­nal his­tory and an ‘‘ap­par­ently in­tractable propen­sity for dis­hon­esty’’.

While the pro­ba­tion of­fi­cer rec­om­mended a sen­tence of home de­ten­tion, Judge Adeane said this looked past Stuthridge’s his­tory and the com­po­nents of the of­fend­ing.

The judge said the quan­tity of cannabis was 49 times greater than the amount deemed to be com­mer­cial, and the amount of stolen ma­te­rial showed Stuthridge had en­cour­aged and sup­ported an an­ti­so­cial in­dus­try.

Judge Adeane sen­tenced Stuthridge to three years in prison.

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