Supreme Court justices ask “what about the kids?” after drug courier couple received significantly different sentences

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A co-offender in a Wellington-based drug operation pictured an estimated $160,000 alongside Jason Philip's Mongrel Mob patch.  (File photo)

New Zealand Police/Provided

A co-offender in a Wellington-based drug operation pictured an estimated $160,000 alongside Jason Philip’s Mongrel Mob patch. (File photo)

The future of two young children in Taihape and the rehabilitation of their drug smuggler father may depend on a Supreme Court decision.

Jason Brendon Philip, 50,’s life changed when he bonded with his child during the months he was housebound on electronically monitored bail, his lawyer, Paul Paino, told the court.

Philip and his partner in life and in crime, Jazinda Lee Hayman, now live in Taihape and had a 2-year-old child and a baby born in early August, Paino said.

The pair were in cars containing drugs hidden in secret compartments, collecting what was believed to be 6kg of methamphetamine from a ‘hub’ dealer in Auckland and bringing it to the head of an operation based in Wellington, Kenny Leslie McMillan.

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In the High Court, both were sentenced to house arrest, Hayman for 11 months and Philip for 12 months. Both pleaded guilty to charges of possession of methamphetamine for the purpose of supply.

But the Crown appealed Philip’s sentence and the Court of Appeal increased his sentence to 2 years and 11 months in prison. The Solicitor General did not appeal Hayman’s sentence even though he also felt that his sentence was insufficient.

Philip then appealed to the Supreme Court, where Paino said there couldn’t be a more compelling case for parity between the two.

The Crown’s attempt to justify the difference has been hotly contested in court.

GLENN TAYLOR/STUFF

Kahukura’s rehab program has been successful in helping Mongrel Mob members clean up and reconnect with their families.

One of the judges, Justice Susan Glazebrook, asked whether the best interests of children mattered and whether the court should consider a more modern approach to lessen the impact on children.

Another of the judges, Judge Joe Williams, questioned whether the sentencing judge was right to look at the sentence ‘in the round’, including that Philip was closely related to his first child and was known to a child whose parent had gone to prison was more likely to end up serving a prison sentence.

One of the Crown attorneys, Jo Mildenhall, said the sentence was grossly inadequate and had been ‘illegitimately’ tailored to reduce the prison sentence to two years, allowing the judge to consider a house arrest sentence at the place.

Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann said the judge appeared to have assessed Philip and asked, “why inflict this harm?”

Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann

Jericho Rock-Archer / Stuff

Chief Justice Dame Helen Winkelmann “had trouble” with the mathematical approach to sentencing. (File photo)

Mildenhall said having an outcome in mind and applying factors to arrive at that outcome was an illegitimate approach. The judge had a specialist report indicating that even without Philip at home, the children would still receive quality care.

But Judge Glazebrook asked whether it was about caring for the children in a material sense rather than their emotional well-being.

The Chief Justice said she “had trouble” with the Court of Appeal’s mathematical approach which sought consistency rather than applying the broader goals and principles of sentencing.

Judge Cheryl Gwyn had convicted Philip and Hayman at Wellington High Court.  (File photo)

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Judge Cheryl Gwyn had convicted Philip and Hayman at Wellington High Court. (File photo)

Prior to his conviction, Philip had attended the Kahukura drug treatment program run by Mongrel Mob in Hawke’s Bay. And his attorney said his remaining rehabilitation should be with his family.

Hayman had also taken a course of treatment. She had no previous convictions, while Philip had served prison terms – but not for drug offences. Philip also had an upbringing marked by abuse, cultural alienation and systemic deprivation.

He also spent six months in custody before being released on bail, served seven months of house arrest before it was overturned, then spent an additional three months in jail serving the sentence imposed by the Court of Justice. call.

In addition to the different approach to sentencing, the Crown and Philip’s counsel disagreed on how Philip’s involvement in the offense should be characterised.

Philip’s solicitor said the couple were drug addicts and received methamphetamine for their attendance, but the Crown said they also appeared to have received a 2006 Audi and had the resources to book a trip to Queenstown scheduled after one of the drug runs.

Philip was released on bail pending the Supreme Court’s decision.

The five-judge tribunal reserved its decision.


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