Cannabis seemed to be like ''gold dust'' in Queenstown and if
you had some, everyone wanted to ''smoke your weed'', a
defendant appearing on drug charges told police during an
Benjamin Luke Gillard (29), landscape gardener, of
Queenstown, appeared before Judge Michael Turner in the
Queenstown District Court yesterday.
Gillard originally pleaded not guilty to charges of offering
to supply a class C controlled drug (cannabis) to a person
over 18, between January 13 and February 21; offering to
supply a class B controlled drug (cannabis resin) to a person
over 18 on January 20; and possessing a class C controlled
drug (cannabis) for purposes set out under the Misuse of
Drugs Act, between January 13 and February 18.
The offences all took place in Queenstown.
However, he changed his plea to guilty partway through
yesterday's defended hearing. He was convicted and remanded
on bail to September 22 for sentencing.
Gillard, from England, and on holiday here, was ordered to
surrender his passport to police.
Judge Turner asked for the pre-sentence report to consider
the possibility of home detention but told Gillard that was
no indication as to the outcome of sentencing.
Earlier in the hearing, the court was played a video
recording of the defendant being interviewed by Acting
Sergeant Mark Caswell after cannabis was found during a
search of Gillard's home.
The defendant told Acting Sgt Caswell he was in New Zealand
on a tourist visa and was not working as he was living off an
inheritance from his father.
The questions from police revolved around a transcript of
texts sent from and received on the defendant's cellphone.
In the video interview, Gillard admitted he smoked cannabis
and paid about $450 an ounce (28.3g), ''which lasts me a long
He was generous and shared it with friends, so they could
Gillard said he had to change his cellphone number because of
the barrage of calls he received from friends when he had
cannabis - ''it's like gold dust in this town''.
Acting Detective Sergeant Regan Boucher, of the Police
Southern District organised crime squad, gave evidence of
universal codes used in texts by people involved in drugs and
''case-specific'' terms, referring to drugs. Universal codes
and case-specific terms were used in the texts on Gillard's
phone, he said.
Prosecutor Sergeant Ian Collin said there was an inference by
the defendant that there was a ''shortage of cannabis'' at
the time in Queenstown ''and that's why when he got it, he
received a barrage of calls''.
Acting Det Sgt Boucher said: ''Cannabis is readily available
in Queenstown, from my experience.''
In response to a question from defence counsel Sonia Vidal,
Acting Det Sgt Boucher said there was no reference in the
defendant's phone transcripts to any money being exchanged