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Drug-dealing lifer gets 20-year term

4:31 PM Friday Aug 27, 2010

Convicted murderer Dean Waka Nathan was wrong if he thought he had nothing to lose by dealing in methamphetamine from inside Christchurch Men's Prison, where he is serving a life sentence.

The 20-year jail term he was given today has a minimum non-parole period attached that will delay his first parole hearing for at least five years. He will not be considered by the Parole Board until 2019.

The methamphetamine supply charge he admitted carries a maximum term of life imprisonment, the Christchurch Court News website reported.

Christchurch District Court Judge Philip Moran ruled today that Nathan was the kingpin of a conspiracy that brought an estimated $1.8 million of the dangerous class A drug down from Auckland for sale in Christchurch.

It was broken by the police's Operation Fudge investigation. Crystal-clear recordings of phone calls by Nathan arranging the drug deals were played to a hearing at the court last month.

Nathan, 43, had admitted dealing in the drug, and conspiracy, but he denied that he was central to the dealing and said he had only arranged one supply run to Auckland.

However, after a disputed facts hearing, Judge Moran found that Nathan had been the "ringmaster" of the group and had used an illicit cellphone at the prison to arrange eight drug-buying trips to Auckland by a drug courier who was sometimes carrying $100,000 in cash.

Nathan is serving a life term for his part in the drive-by gang killing by Highway 61 members of a Black Power rival, Max Shannon. He was found guilty in a 2001 trial in the High Court at Christchurch.

The judge today described Nathan's claim that he only arranged one deal as "self-serving damage control".

Prosecutor Claire Boshier said no cumulative sentence could be imposed on the life term that Nathan was already serving but the crown sought a minimum non-parole term that would prove to him that he had been wrong to think he had nothing to lose.

Defence counsel Tim Fournier said that the sentence suggested by the crown was too high, though he accepted that there needed to be an increase because Nathan was a serving prisoner.

Judge Moran noted many details in the recorded phone calls which pointed to an on-going operation. Nathan was the common factor and the person who brought together the others who were involved.

These included a relative, a friend, his partner, and a woman who had borne him a son.

References were made to the drug courier going to Auckland "with the same person" or hiding the money "in the same place", indicating a continuing operation.

He estimated the courier made eight trips, and one where the deal fell through because the supplier became worried that he was under surveillance. The drugs involved would have been worth $1.8m on the streets, causing destruction and misery to those caught up and addicted to it.

It also caused harm to the victims of the thefts and burglaries carried out by addicts who stole to feed their habits.



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