Student's drug conviction quashed

A student who admitted supplying Ritalin to other students in Dunedin has had his conviction and sentence quashed by the Court of Appeal.

Last January, Druvi Patrick Rodrigo (then 23) appeared in the Dunedin District Court before Judge Grant Fraser and admitted selling methylphenidate (Ritalin), a class B drug, between February 1 and September 28, 2012.

He was convicted and on April 26 sentenced to 10 months' home detention and 200 hours' community work.

But when a co-offender was later discharged without conviction after admitting the same offence, Mr Rodrigo appealed against his conviction and sentence.

The Court of Appeal released its decision yesterday, discharging Mr Rodrigo without conviction.

His lawyer, Fiona Guy Kidd, of Invercargill, said Mr Rodrigo was relieved.

The decision stated Mr Rodrigo's offending was "at the low end" and the likely consequences of conviction for him were "not insignificant".

"We consider that the consequences of conviction are out of all proportion to that offending. We consider the proper outcome in these circumstances is to discharge Mr Rodrigo without conviction," the Court of Appeal said.

Mr Rodrigo was studying commerce at the University of Otago when police obtained text message data which identified him as a Ritalin supplier.

When police searched his home and found 17 Ritalin tablets in his bedroom, Mr Rodrigo admitted he had been supplying the drug to three other students to help them study, and using the profit to buy Ritalin for his own use.

The Court of Appeal said Mr Rodrigo's operation was unsophisticated and "drug dealing at the lower end of seriousness".

It took into account his young age, lack of other offending and desire to travel to the United States or Canada to live with relatives.

The court also considered his formal diagnosis as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for which Ritalin is prescribed, which came after his sentencing.

The Court of Appeal said Mr Rodrigo was taking steps to treat his condition and was unlikely to reoffend.

 

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