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Dylan James Cameron and Jessica Marie Dorsey (both 28) appeared in the Dunedin District Court late last month after pleading guilty to a range of class A, B and C drug charges.
Judge David Ruth, after taking into account all factors, reached a point of 12 months’ imprisonment for the pair, allowing him to consider converting it to a non-custodial sentence.
While Probation had recommended home detention, the judge was willing to step back even further.
He imposed 12 months’ intensive supervision on Cameron and Dorsey, a rehabilitative outcome designed to assist defendants with access to counselling and other programmes.
Judge Ruth accepted it might be seen by some as light.
"I’ve given you an opportunity that might seem on one view of things ... perhaps lenient or humanitarian, but it’s up to you now to take advantage of it. It’s up to you to be as good as the word you’ve given," he said.
There was also some discussion over whether the defendants should be allowed to live together while serving their sentences, given the drug dealing took place in a domestic setting.
Judge Ruth refused to forcibly split them.
"In reality this is a couple and even if we were to separate these people for some number of months they’ll inevitably get back together and live together. It doesn’t seem to have any efficacy to embark on that course," he said.
The court heard police raided the couple’s Holmes Hill home early on October 28 last year and immediately noted a comprehensive surveillance system.
There was a large television in Cameron and Dorsey’s bedroom connected to three CCTV cameras covering the front door, driveway and footpath outside the house.
In a shoulder bag hanging on the bed frame, officers found 3.18g of P split into seven deal bags, along with $2450 cash.
Also in the bedroom were 16 glass pipes for smoking the class-A drug.
Cameron initially refused to allow police access to his cellphone but later analysis gave insight into the scale of the illicit enterprise.
Between May and September the duo had made 25 sales to 15 people and there were 16 offers for sale during the period.
The court heard there were also isolated Ritalin and cannabis deals.
Cameron, reports revealed, had started using alcohol at a very early age, before adding cannabis and becoming hooked on meth.
He was badly injured in a crash and Judge Ruth said he had used substance abuse to alleviate the pain.
Both he and Dorsey, who had taken a similar path to addiction, had been the victims of a home invasion which had left them psychologically scarred.
The judge noted they had lost the custody of their children because of the drug issues and both said they were intent on changing their lives and reuniting the family.