Wanaka drug dealer jailed for 32 months

After receiving hugs and handshakes from his family and removing his tie, belt and suit jacket, a convicted Wanaka drug dealer was led to the cells yesterday to begin a 32-month prison sentence.

Oscar Jimmy Gold Arlidge (28) had previously admitted seven charges laid under the Misuse of Drugs Act, stemming from an undercover police operation, dubbed Viking, last year.

The operation, carried out by Otago Rural CIB staff with support from the Southern District organised crime squad, targeted the sale and supply of class A and B drugs to the town.

Arlidge was charged with supplying class A-controlled LSD on September 14, 2013; offering to supply class B-controlled MDMA on September 13; supplying LSD and class B-controlled MDMA on September 20; offering to supply LSD on October 5; and offering to supply LSD and class C-controlled cannabis to a person over the age of 18 on October 24, all at Wanaka.

In the Queenstown District Court yesterday, defence counsel Fiona Guy-Kidd said Arlidge had ''specifically asked'' her to tell the judge it had been a ''life-changing process'' and ''no matter what the outcome today, that has been a positive experience for him''.

''He is sincerely sorry.''

Ms Guy-Kidd said Arlidge was a heavy user of LSD and ecstasy and ''got caught up in the party lifestyle''.

''He did not really think of the consequences of what he was doing; it was the biggest mistake of his life.''

Arlidge began using drugs in his ''pre-teen years'' and continued until his arrest last year.

Since that time Arlidge had attended Narcotics Anonymous, had sought counselling and had completed a Salvation Army Bridge Programme.

He had also ''disassociated himself from that party scene entirely''.

Ms Guy-Kidd said at the time it was not known he suffered from ADHD.

She said sending him to prison could ''divert him from his rehabilitation efforts''.

Crown Prosecutor Michael Morris said the defendant had ''supplied large quantities of class A drugs - on two occasions he sold 100 tabs, four times the [presumptive level of dealing], which is 25 tabs''.

Mr Morris said the previously undiagnosed ADHD did not mean a reduction in ''moral culpability''.

''It can't logically be said to be causative for the defendant selling significant amounts of LSD over a prolonged period. He knew it was wrong at the time he was selling.''

Judge Michael Turner said Arlidge had sold 100 tabs on one occasion, and offered to sell another 100 on another. However, those were analysed and found not to be LSD.

He received about $4000 in total for the sale of LSD. He also supplied 3.5g of ecstasy and offered to supply more, making about $1500 from the sale of that drug, and further offered ''ounces'' of cannabis.

Judge Turner said it was clear from the numerous references received Arlidge had a ''loving and supportive family'', was hard-working and had a ''morally sound upbringing''.

After he moved to Wanaka in May last year to work as a snowmaker, his employment ended after a snowboarding accident.

Following the accident Arlidge became involved in drug-dealing.

Ultimately he decided to stop selling drugs, completed a course in Wellington and intended to move to Australia for work. He was arrested three days before leaving New Zealand.

Judge Turner said he accepted part of the motivation for selling drugs was to supplement or support his own addiction and while reports indicated it was likely he suffered ADHD, he did not believe the condition ''necessarily explains your decision to deal drugs''.

Aggravating factors included the premeditation involved in his offending and that he was ''forensically aware''.

Arlidge was careful not to conduct business over the phone or via text message, and established a ''code'' - to ''catch up for a beer'' was code for a meeting to discuss a deal.

On one occasion Arlidge supplied drugs in a plastic bag but asked an undercover officer to take possession of them in a different bag to ''eliminate the risk of fingerprints being discovered''.

He met the undercover officer at a variety of locations, showing planning, Judge Turner said.

''It was premeditated, planned and carefully orchestrated.''

Mitigating factors included his guilty plea and willingness to rehabilitate, but he was aware his actions were ''morally and legally wrong''.

From a starting point of four years and seven months imprisonment, Judge Turner reduced the sentence to two years eight months on each of the charges involving LSD.

He was also sentenced to one year and five months for offering to sell ecstasy and one year for offering to sell cannabis, all to be served concurrently.