Meth dealer sent back to jail after setting up criminal operation on parole

By Ric Stephens, Open Justice reporter of

A prison parolee has been recalled to jail and had extra time added to his existing sentence for setting up a one-man drug-dealing business after he was released.

28072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Napier Court

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Oliver Leroy Stewart, 32, appeared via audio-visual link from prison when he was sentenced in the Napier District Court on Thursday.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to methamphetamine dealing and possessing the drug for supply.

Judge Russell Collins outlined Stewart’s history of drug dealing. He said Stewart had been jailed in 2011 for possessing cannabis for supply, and again for two years in 2015 for dealing in illicit drugs.

In 2018, Stewart was imprisoned for seven years for possession of methamphetamine for supply.

He had been released on parole from that sentence when he was discovered by police to be involved in a dealing again as a “sole operator”. He was recalled to prison as a result.

Judge Collins told Stewart that meth “quite frankly wreaks havoc in people’s lives”.

Defence counsel Matthew Phelps said that Stewart was motivated to get on top of his own addiction and intended to seek treatment from the Odyssey House drug rehabilitation programme when he was next released.

Megan Mitchell, for the Crown, acknowledged Stewart’s addiction problems and said he had previously undergone three drug rehabilitation courses, but these did not seem to have had an impact on his offending.

Judge Collins said that the Court of Appeal had made it clear that a sentence discount for addiction was available, “but it is not automatic and not across the board”.

“Some [members of the public] struggle that someone should get a discount for their addiction while they are content to make addicts of others,” the judge said.

He sentenced Stewart to two years and three months in prison, to be added to the seven-year sentence that was imposed in 2018.

“This was on your part serious class-A drug dealing in methamphetamine while you were on parole for that very offending,” the judge said.

In 2017, Stewart was one of a number of people arrested in what was then the largest methamphetamine bust in Hawke’s Bay. In that case, police seized 3kg of the drug, with a street value of $2.5 million.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald

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