A couple involved in dealing drugs and a failed attempt at cooking methamphetamine which resulted in an explosion causing $100,000 in financial losses have been sentenced – with one given a 70 percent discount off her sentence to end up with home detention.
In the Whangārei District Court this week, Fiona Nivika McFarland, 31, of Onerahi, faced 35 charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to manufacture methamphetamine, offering to supply a class A and supplying GBL otherwise known as liquid ecstasy.
Her ex-boyfriend, Kane Jason Murray, 32, of Maunu, appeared alongside her for sentence on nine charges of manufacturing methamphetamine, possessing equipment to manufacture and possession of firearms.
Their offending first came to light in 2018. At the time, McFarland and Murray were in a relationship when police executed a search warrant on an unrelated matter at Murray’s Wheki Valley residence.
During that search, police located equipment used to manufacture meth along with two firearms and ammunition triggering an investigation.
Police later conducted a search on McFarland’s phone and found evidence the pair were manufacturing and supplying class A and B drugs.
On 4 December, 2019, McFarland and Murray rented a hotel room in Tūtūkākā as a location to cook meth.
During the course of their cook, they used the stovetop oven in a highly inflammable area causing an explosion that left huge amounts of damage and with such force there were dents to the steel oven doors.
The owner of the property reported the damage cost over $100,000 in repairs and loss of income as he could not rent the property out for 10 months.
The court heard McFarland was running her operation to feed her own addiction, selling to multiple clients and two other co-offenders – Emma Whiting and Jordan Dobson to onsell.
Crown prosecutor Nicole Jamieson said McFarland was at the top and there was no one else.
“Although the amount she was dealing in cannot be fully identified, she is placed in a significant role in this operation,” Jamieson said.
The Crown accepted Murray was not as deeply involved in the operation and he took responsibility for the equipment found at his house.
Judge Deidre Orchard agreed McFarland was the main ringleader using the system she had created for her own personal gain but did not agree it was an organisation.
“She is the one running her own little enterprise to support her addiction and she sells to others to supply. What’s striking about this is there is no criminal organisation involved or indication you were making a lot of money,” Judge Orchard said.
Judge Orchard believed a start point of five and a half years’ jail was appropriate for McFarland who was given a significant discount of 70 percent off that starting point due to a number of situations.
McFarland spent three years on EM (electronic monitoring) bail with regular hair follicle drug testing and had not breached a single time which qualified for 40 percent reduction. She was given a 15 percent discount for an early guilty plea even though the plea came in February 2023, Judge Orchard said she was still entitled to a reduction as she had indicated much earlier she wanted to plead guilty.
In a pre-sentence report, McFarland said she was remote schooled while living on a farm in Australia for several years which Judge Orchard said had an impact on her giving her a further 5 percent discount and a 10 percent discount was also applied for her success at rehab since arrest.
The end sentence for McFarland was converted to 10 months’ home detention and she was ordered to pay $12,000 reparation to the victim.
Murray was sentenced to nine months of home detention and also ordered to pay $12,000 reparation.
Dobson recently entered guilty pleas to her role in the operation and Whiting will be sentenced at a later date in May.
*This story was first published by the New Zealand Herald.