Drugs sentence reduced

A German man imprisoned for drug dealing in Queenstown can apply for home detention after the length of his prison sentence was reduced on appeal.

Sven Stephan Harrieder (30) was arrested after police executed a search warrant at Deco Backpackers in the resort on June 25.

They found cannabis in his room with an estimated street value of between $27,000 and $55,000, cash totalling $117,826, 10 tabs of LSD, four mobile phones and a laptop.

During the search, 45 notifications were received on the phones, but Harrieder refused to give police the passcodes.

In the Queenstown District Court on August 10, Judge Bernadette Farnan sentenced him to 26 months’ imprisonment after he admitted possession of class C-controlled cannabis for supply, possession of class B-controlled LSD and failing to assist a detective to exercise a search.

From a starting point of three years and four months’ prison, Judge Farnan applied a 35% deduction for the difficulty he may have experienced in custody as a foreigner in a New Zealand prison, as well as his remorse, previous good character and guilty plea.

Harrieder appealed the decision in the High Court at Queenstown on September 17 on the grounds the length of imprisonment was ‘‘manifestly excessive’’.

Counsel Hugo Young argued the starting point was too high given the case law cited by the Crown.

Judge Farnan had erred in saying the onus was on the defendant to prove a lack of previous convictions in his home country, Mr Young said.

A few days after the sentencing, he received a copy of the defendant’s criminal record that showed he had no convictions.

That evidence should be taken account of in the appeal, he said.

In his decision, Justice Robert Osborne found the starting point and deduction applied by Judge Farnan were appropriate.

However, the provision of Harrieder’s German criminal record meant the court now had ‘‘the full information which was not available’’ at sentencing, and the defendant was entitled to a further 5% discount.

A discount of 40% brought the end sentence to 24 months’ prison, which meant the defendant qualified for a home detention sentence.

Justice Osborne granted Harrieder leave to apply for home detention, the outcome of which would depend on whether a suitable residence was available.

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