MS sufferer jailed for selling cannabis to friends

A South Otago multiple sclerosis sufferer has been jailed for nearly two and a-half years after self-medicating with cannabis and also selling the drug to his mates.

Vigil Francis Habib (44), appeared before the Dunedin District Court yesterday having admitted charges of possessing cannabis for supply and failing to answer court bail.

A stint behind bars may have been avoided, the court heard, had it not been for his extensive criminal history.

Judge Michael Turner counted 17 drug-related convictions from between 1996 and 2015, four of which were specifically for dealing.

When police executed a search warrant at Habib’s Benhar home on March 16, it was immediately clear he had been at it again.

When officers searched under the defendant’s bed covers, they  found a blue backpack containing more than 300g of cannabis.

Inside the bag was also a set of electronic scales and several empty snap-lock bags, consistent with selling.

Police said the stash could have been sold for as much as $7000.

Habib, who was there when the raid took place, produced a plastic bag  he had hidden in his sock which contained $2890  cash.

Counsel John Westgate said, aside from the class-C drug dealing, his client was running his own legitimate business.

As a result, only half the money was forfeited to the Crown.

"He was self-medicating with cannabis because he found it was better than the alternative," Mr Westgate said.

"The problem for him is once he starts using it, the temptation to supplement his lifestyle by selling to a few mates is too great."

Judge Turner said Habib’s interview with Probation showed him to be remorseless about  the offending.

"He has not undertaken treatment for addiction and is not motivated to do so," he said.

Habib was assessed as a medium risk of reoffending but Mr Westgate said his client was on new medication for his multiple sclerosis and had promised to stay off cannabis.

He was sentenced to two years five months’ imprisonment and ordered to forfeit $1445.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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