Young drug dealer avoids prison

A judge has praised a young Alexandra man for the ‘‘remarkable’’ changes in his life since his arrest on cannabis-related charges.
    Sentencing Brendan Stuart Kingswell (20) in the Alexandra District Court last week, Judge David Robinson said there was ‘‘absolutely nothing to be gained’’ from locking up someone so young.
    The offending, between May and November last year, came to light on January 7, when police went to the defendant’s home for an unrelated matter.
    A strong smell of cannabis wafted out of the house as officers spoke to the defendant at his front door.
    A search uncovered nine bongs, 14 cannabis pipes and a bag of cannabis seeds in the lounge.
    After his phone was seized, analysis of his social media activity showed he made 19 offers to sell the drug between May 31 and November 26 last year, with a total value estimated at between $1800 and $3000.
    Some of his customers were aged under 18.
    He was charged with possessing cannabis plant, possessing cannabis seed, possessing utensils and five charges of selling cannabis.
    Counsel Jacinta Grant said the dealing was mainly to fund the defendant’s own use.
    From a ‘‘not-so-good background’’, he first used the drug at age 12, and was a daily user by 15.
    Since his arrest, he had gone ‘‘cold turkey’’ on drugs and alcohol, and got a driving licence and a job.
    Judge Robinson said many young people thought cannabis was a harmless drug, but research showed it was associated with a fourfold increase in the risk of developing a life-altering mental illness, and was particularly harmful to the developing brains of younger teenagers.
    He told the defendant he recognised he had come from a disadvantaged background, and a harsh sentence would be tantamount to ‘‘stuffing your future’’.
    However, there needed to be a punitive element to remind him what would happen if he strayed from his current path.
    He sentenced Kingswell to 75 hours’ community work, three months’ community detention with a weekend curfew and 12 months’ supervision to enable his drug and alcohol issues to be addressed.
    Other convictions:

Liam Christopher Anderson (31), of Cromwell, aggravated drink-driving (1061mcg), State Highway 8, Clyde, December 17, 75 hours’ community work, 15 months’ intensive supervision, disqualified 28 days, alcohol interlock provisions.

— James Lloyd-Jones Mackenzie (21), electrician, of Roxburgh, drink-driving (205mg), dangerous driving, Fruitlands-Roxburgh Rd, February 9; aggravated drink-driving (721mcg), Scotland St, March 26; disqualified 28 days, alcohol interlock provisions, reparation $166.94, 12 months’ supervision.

— Corey Robert Martin (47), builder, of Cromwell, injuring with intent to injure, April 3, 80 hours’ community work, 12 months’ supervision.

— Shantelle Sharee McNally (35), of Cromwell, threatening act, possessing cannabis, failing to assist a search, June 15, Alexandra, 80 hours’ community work.