A 33-year-old Christchurch man has avoided prison after he imported ecstasy and methamphetamine ordered on the dark web from the Netherlands and the United States.
Timothy Robert Fearn was sentenced in the Christchurch District Court on Wednesday to 11 months’ home detention.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to two charges of importing the class A drug methamphetamine and the class B drug ecstasy, and selling both drugs. A series of offences were alleged, and representative charges were laid, indicating repeated offending.
Fearn was also sentenced on a number of other charges, including unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, driving while disqualified, unlawfully being in an enclosed yard and failing to answer district court bail.
Fearn was living in Christchurch and working at an engineering firm in mid-2016 when the packages were imported to New Zealand using fake names and different addresses.
The Crown told the court Customs operated a mail screening service at the International Mail Centre at Auckland Airport, which checked international postal articles and freight courier items.
The operation from May to September 2016 in which Fearn and two other people were arrested was called Operation Skillet. The other two had previously been sentenced to home detention.
The drugs had been ordered over the internet using “dark web” underground sites.
“These websites allow people to order a wide variety of illegal items via the internet [and] these orders are sent internationally to an address and name supplied by the importer. Goods are also increasingly being paid for by the use of Bitcoins,” the Crown said.
Packages containing ecstasy and methamphetamine were intercepted at the International Mail Centre with some being addressed to Fearn’s address.
Customs intercepted a total of 27g of methamphetamine and 3.6g of ecstasy.
In his interview, Fearn denied being involved in ordering the drugs online but said he had given money to another offender to help with payment for the drugs that person had ordered.
He admitted he knew the packages he was expecting contained drugs and said he would use some himself, and sell the rest. Messages found on his cell phone indicated drug dealing.
Judge Raoul Neave warned Fearn that any further offending would inevitably lead to him ending up in jail.
“You have come within a whisker of being imprisoned today,” the judge said.
Fearn was disqualified from driving for 12 months, starting July 31.