28 Apr 2017

Drug ring 'operations manager' jailed

9:12 pm on 28 April 2017

A man referred to by a judge as the operations manager of a Wellington methamphetamine ring has been jailed for four years and eight months.

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A file photo of a meth pipe: Darren McKinley was arrested in 2014 as part of Operation Fantail, a police investigation targeting the supply of the drug. Photo: wikipedia

Darren McKinley, 48, was sentenced in the High Court in Wellington this afternoon on a range of charges including conspiracy to supply methamphetamine and actually supplying the drug.

Darren McKinley, 48, was sentenced in the High Court in Wellington on 28 April 2017 on a range of charges including conspiracy to supply methamphetamine and actually supplying the drug.

Darren McKinley Photo: RNZ

He was arrested in 2014 as a result of the police investigation Operation Fantail, which had been targeting the methamphetamine supply network in Wellington since early 2013.

In May 2014 he and a colleague worked together to buy methamphetamine from an Auckland dealer.

McKinley met with the drug couriers at a motel on the Kapiti Coast, but the deal was intercepted by the police.

They found over 140g of the drug and a handwritten note confirming a price of $65,000.

McKinley also supplied methamphetamine in the Wellington region more than 90 times.

Justice Collins said a search of the defendant's home also turned up 4g of methamphetamine, along with nearly $5000 cash, digital scales and small bags used to package the drug.

He said McKinley continued his involvement with the drug-dealing ring from behind bars.

"You called your partner from prison and told her you were concerned about money hidden on [a co-accused's] property.

"[You] directed her to speak to him and another woman to uplift the money. You and your partner were working together to prevent the seizure of evidence."

McKinley's lawyer, Liz Hall, said her client had attended six months of a drug rehabilitation course at Odyssey House, but had to leave after someone complained when he made a sexist joke.

She suggested he should receive some sentence discount as credit for his time at the facility.

Justice Collins agreed, saying a pre-sentence report referred to McKinley's progress at Odyssey House.

"[It] says you've learnt a lot from the programme and are motivated to change your lifestyle.

"You say you now have a pro-social support network and tools to keep on the straight and narrow... [and are] motivated to do further rehabilitation courses."

The judge said there were several aggravating features to McKinley's offending, including the planning and premeditation that went into it and the value and frequency of sales involved.

However he said the defendant had written a letter to the court expressing his remorse and had also entered a guilty plea.

McKinley also forfeited to the Crown a motorcycle and two cars valued about $50,000.

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