Man gets home detention after methadone death

A Wanganui man has been sentenced to 10 months' home detention for unlawfully supplying the methadone implicated in a woman's fatal overdose.

Clive Kenneth Beach, 58, appeared before Justice Robert Dobson in the High Court at Whanganui today to be sentenced, after earlier admitting three counts of supplying methadone, a class B drug.

One count related to the methadone involved in the death of Sanchia Wilson and two were representative.

Beach supplied a quantity of the drug to the man accused of Miss Wilson's murder, Mathew Johns.

Miss Wilson, 33, died in Wellington Hospital on April 1, having fallen unconscious at Beach's Castlecliff home on March 28 from alleged drug-related causes.

Justice Dobson agreed with the Crown's submission that, in selling methadone prescribed for his use, Beach had abused the trust bestowed to him as a registered methadone user, which had the wider implication of casting doubt on drug-replacement programmes.

The court heard how Beach had started diverting methadone at the beginning of this year to make money.

He collected the drug on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and was entrusted to administer his prescription on every other day of the week.

Justice Dobson acknowledged "there was no great commerciality involved" in the offending - Beach would charge $80 per unit, and some methadone had been bartered for bottles of home-brewed whiskey - but the seriousness of the drug dealing was underscored by Miss Wilson's death.

Beach, who sustained head injuries in a road crash in 1976, has been a methadone user for more than 20 years.

His lawyer, Peter Brosnahan, appealed for a sentence of home detention on the basis Beach was "not a well man for obvious reasons"; limited in his mobility and prone to seizures.

Justice Dobson said he had significant concerns about delivering such a sentence, given the address proposed for Beach's home detention was the same property where the offending had occurred.

However, since being charged, Beach has been required to collect and consume his prescription at a Wanganui pharmacy.

In the end, Justice Dobson said he was satisfied that, given the 58-year-old's ailing condition, imprisonment would be undue.

Beach was sentenced to 10 months' home detention.

- By Aaron van Delden of The Wanganui Chronicle

 

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