Former local politician done for dealing

Sandy Mulqueen
Sandy Mulqueen
For the past eight years, former Waimate district councillor Sandy Mulqueen has made no secret of her pro-cannabis stance.

Her public support for decriminalising the class-C drug and headline-grabbing admissions she was "stoned a lot" as an Auckland bus driver never got her into trouble — until now.

The 60-year-old appeared in the Dunedin District Court yesterday after pleading guilty to a charge of possessing cannabis for supply following a raid on her Milton home on December 20 last year.

Mulqueen described herself as a "political prisoner" and initially refused to have her home assessed for an electronically monitored sentence.

The threat of imprisonment, however, prompted a change of heart.

"[She] did not want to go to jail for the sake of an ideal," Judge Michael Turner said.

Mulqueen was sentenced to five months’ community detention and 125 hours’ community work.

When officers arrived at her house at 7.35am, the defendant confessed there was cannabis in ice-cream containers under a set of drawers in her bedroom.

Along with the drugs, police found a set of electronic scales and self-sealing bags consistent with dealing.

A more thorough search turned up more cannabis in a bag on the kitchen table — a total of 161g at the property.

Mulqueen admitted she had been selling to cover her costs as an addict.

She had been using cannabis for 40 years and doctors considered it dangerous for her to suddenly stop, the court heard.

Mulqueen initially indicated she would apply to be discharged without conviction but yesterday she dismissed her lawyer, abandoned that application and went it alone.

"I have lost confidence in my legal counsel; I’m going to speak my own words & hope the judge lets me go home when I’m done," she wrote on Facebook this week.

It got off to a rough start.

Judge Turner said Mulqueen’s political views were "irrelevant".

"Your views on cannabis do not change the law," he said.

Though he calculated a sentence of 13 months’ imprisonment, he was prepared to
convert that to a community-based penalty.

That would have been home detention, the judge said, had it not been for a lack of GPS signal at the defendant’s home.

He noted Mulqueen’s clean criminal record but said she had "no remorse" for her offending.

Sending her to counselling was futile, Judge Turner said.

"You consider the drug to be beneficial to you and the community at large," he said.

Mulqueen resigned from her role in Waimate in November 2012 after failing to convince the council to adopt her "We Desire Change" campaign to support cannabis law reform.

She said she was moving to Milton to set up a knitwear shop.





Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter