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Meth kingpin’s wife jailed

The wife of Gisborne kingpin Lucky Te Waata Campbell has been jailed for three and a half years for her role in his methamphetamine empire.

Loretta Tohungarau Campbell, 40, the mother of the couple's five children, was sentenced in Gisborne District Court on Friday alongside Michaela Patricia Irwin, 24, one of Lucky's intermediate level drug dealers.

Irwin was jailed for two years, two months.

The sentences were imposed by Judge Warren Cathcart, who presided over the jury trial at which the women were each found guilty last November.

Lucky Campbell, 43, is serving a prison term of 14 years, seven months imposed on him last December after he pleaded guilty to seven charges of possessing meth for supply. The charges related to 6.28 kilograms of meth he brought into Gisborne for distribution over four months in 2017.

His enterprise was one of the targets of surveillance operation Pinyin, during which police analysed text data, tracked cellphones and monitored live phonecalls.

The Campbells were arrested at the conclusion of the operation in January, 2018. Police discovered about $460,000 in a storage unit they rented. Loretta Campbell paid the rent on that unit and a former motel unit Lucky called his “Bat Cave”, where he kept his bulk supply of meth'.

Loretta Campbell, Irwin and alleged drug dealer associate Kathleen Paul Campbell, 35, denied allegations against them and collectively faced 70 charges at the outset of their joint trial.

The Crown case included about five hours in which a detective read into evidence thousands of intercepted communications intended to prove the alleged extent of each of the women's roles.

The jury found Loretta Campbell guilty of two of the charges against her. She had faced the same seven charges but laid on a lesser, party basis as those admitted by her husband.

One of the charges involved five ounces (140 grams) of meth, the other an unspecified amount.

Irwin was found guilty of three of 45 charges of supplying meth. Those proved involved just over two ounces.

Kathleen Campbell was cleared of all charges.

At the sentencing hearing, Crown prosecutor Cameron Stuart and Loretta Campbell's counsel Doug Rishworth went head to head over the sentence starting point.

The Crown pitched its submissions at eight to 10 years — band four of a newly established reference case. Mr Rishworth argued for three to four years, putting the offending in band two and noting the new case law allowed for more fluidity in categorising offending across bands.

Mr Stuart submitted the court could infer from other evidential and indisputable communications data, not specifically linked to the two proved charges against her, that Loretta Campbell was highly knowledgeable of her husband's enterprise and the huge amounts of meth he was sourcing.

Knowledge of those amounts was material to sentence as was her role in the enterprise, which Mr Stuart described as one of “high level governance”.

The money found in the storage unit was likely to be a remaining sum of a larger amount from which Lucky Campbell had already uplifted his share — again, with her knowledge, Mr Stuart said.

But Mr Rishworth strongly refuted those submissions, saying the court would be wrong to adopt that approach to sentencing. The Crown was “struggling to accept the jury's verdicts”, he said.

The court had a duty to sentence only on the verdicts arrived at by the jury and the evidence that specifically applied to the charges proved.

It was not for the Crown to speculate as to what knowledge or expectation Loretta Campbell might have had. It had after all been a “trial by jury” not “trial by the Crown's interpretation of the evidence”, Mr Rishworth said.

The Crown premised its case on this being a joint venture between Loretta and Lucky Campbell, but the jury rejected it.

There was no evidence to attribute the money in the storage unit home to Loretta Campbell, Mr Rishworth said.

It was concealed inside cartons and the unit was otherwise full of household furniture and effects.

The money could relate to the offending in the seven charges admitted by Lucky Campbell or to his other immoral type activities heard about at trial — money-lending, cannabis-selling etc, Mr Rishworth said.

Judge Cathcart set a sentence starting point of 5½ years. He agreed with Mr Rishworth the court could not adopt the approach to sentencing suggested by the Crown but accepted Mr Stuart's submission, the court could safely infer Loretta Campbell knew the amount of meth involved in the offence relating to the second charge was likely to have been substantial — if not a kilogram.

The starting point for Irwin was two years, eight months. The judge accepted counsel Simon Lance's submissions Irwin had a limited function in the drug ring usually under direction from Lucky Campbell, made little financial gain and had little influence on those higher up the chain.

But he did not accept Irwin had no awareness of the scale of the operation. She must have had some idea, the judge said.

Discounts for mitigating factors for Loretta Campbell included eight months for her personal circumstances — her lack of any previous convictions, role as a mother of five, strong work ethic, and otherwise family-oriented lifestyle.

Discount for matters in a cultural report, which can be as high as 40 percent were limited to about 18 percent (12 months).

Loretta Campbell obviously had a difficult relationship with her husband, who she described to the report writer as abusive, controlling and narcissistic. But she possibly “overplayed it” and it was not causative of her offending, the judge said.

Evidence showed she had an active, free-flowing, role in relation to her husband's enterprise to the extent she sometimes counselled and advised him during his drug-buying trips.

There was four months discount for her time on restrictive bail, which had included a 24-hour curfew.

Adjustments to the starting point for Irwin, included a month’s uplift for a previous conviction for meth’ dealing and seven months’ discount for her time on restrictive bail.