Armed Dunedin dealer jailed

The rising tide of methamphetamine in the South has resulted in an armed Dunedin dealer being jailed for more than two years.

Riki Raniera Ellison (33) appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to supplying the class-A drug and possession of a sawn-off shotgun.

The case is one of a growing number before the court featuring possession, importation and supply of P, which is now increasingly occupying southern police.

"In recent years New Zealand has seen a dramatic rise in the availability and use of ... methamphetamine," a summary of facts before the court said.

"[It] can be imported across the border or manufactured locally in clandestine laboratories and it is sought-after for its stimulant properties. The drug is highly addictive. It is a drug that knows no social boundaries and causes considerable harm within our communities."

Over the seven months from December 2016, Ellison offered to supply methamphetamine more than 30 times.

Police intercepted messages in which he referred to "singles", "ladies", "halfs" and "wholes".

They were code for 0.1g, 0.25g, 0.5g and 1g respectively.

Officers discovered Ellison was selling from his Andersons Bay home and would also have associates deliver the product on his behalf.

On September 12, police executed a search warrant at his new residence in Pine Hill.

The defendant informed them he had a firearm at the property and they found a sawn-off shotgun under a bed, along with 57 cartridges.

The weapon was not loaded, the court heard.

When interviewed, Ellison admitted the drug dealing but said he had only made sales to "a small circle of friends".

He had been using methamphetamine and told police he was struggling to stop.

Ellison put the possession of the firearm down to his "drug-affected and paranoid thinking".

Defence counsel Campbell Savage said his client was planning to use his imprisonment to turn his life around.

"His incarceration today might be a stitch in time that saves nine," he said.

It would be a "pretty painful stitch", however.

Judge Brian Callaghan said Ellison had been employed on fishing boats and had a supportive partner behind him.

"I’ve noted your resolve to kick your P habit," he said.

Ellison was jailed for two years three months and the judge ordered that the weapon and ammunition be destroyed.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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