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NZ Man Sentenced to House Arrest for Drug Importation

Between 2016 and 2017, Christopher William Tett, 33, had ordered countless packages of ecstasy and methamphetamine from unidentified darknet vendors, the New Plymouth District Court heard at a recent sentencing hearing. Tett, according to his own confession, took to the darknet after learning he could access meth of a much higher quality than he could find anywhere in New Zealand.

The court heard that Tett “used his computer skills” to access the darknet. Officials explained that the darknet was a part of the internet—accessible only through a special browser—where “nefarious activities” take place. The also explained the use for cryptocurrencies and that most criminal activity on the darknet was funded through bitcoin. The arguably insufficient information given by the prosecutors that put Tett’s crimes in perspective had very little of an impact on the sentencing.

Judge Garry Barkle sympathized with the 33-year-old from Christchurch, New Zealand. Tett had moved after a 2016 arrest for drug importation. The defendant, along with two accomplices from Christchurch, had ordered four packages of drugs from the darknet that law enforcement had seized at the Auckland International Mail Centre. None of the packages had arrived at the trio’s address.

At the Auckland International Mail Centre, the authorities first seized two packages of ecstasy. They later seized another two packages of methamphetamine. All in quantities one would consume personally. Tett’s lawyer, Paul Keegan, told the court that no evidence existed that indicated his client had been buying drugs with any intent to distribute. Tett had planned on consuming everything—he admitted that he had been heavily addicted to methamphetamine.

After his September arrest, Tett was released on bail under the condition that he move to an address in New Plymouth. In May 2017, authorities intercepted multiple packages of methamphetamine. Tett had, however, completed a drug rehabilitation program and had found a job while out on bail.

Many people who had also attended the drug rehab made an appearance in the courtroom in support of Tett. His parents had also attended the hearing. Keegan argued that Tett should receive credit for his steps made towards sobriety and workforce reintegration. The lawyer pointed out that Tett had also pleaded guilty to all six drug importation charges and had not caused investigators any trouble. Furthermore, the lawyer said that any sentence should take into account the eight months Tett head already spent in jail while waiting for his sentencing hearing.

The prosecution actually agreed that credit was owed to Tett for acknowledging his drug problem and for taking steps to recover. Christchurch lawyer Ruth Harcourt, representing the Crown, felt “neutral” about a sentence of home detention instead of prison. Judge Garry Barkle took this into account when he handed down Tett’s sentence: two years in prison, suspended upon 12 months of home detention.

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