An Australian hairdresser linked to the Comanchero Motorcycle Club crossed the Tasman to sell drugs after borrowing money and owing a favour.
That’s what Auckland District Court was told when He Sha was jailed on Monday for conspiring to deal in pseudoephedrine.
Judge Claire Ryan said Sha, a Sydney man originally from China, blamed financial pressure for his attempts to sell the methamphetamine precursor.
Sha appeared in the dock wearing a face mask and with an interpreter assisting him as his family and financial troubles were outlined.
The court heard Sha arrived in Australia in 2010, studied at the University of Queensland’s Sydney campus, then at a business college.
Sha said financial issues emerged when his wife had to stay home after giving birth, and he was sending money to China to support his mother who had cancer.
But the court heard those financial commitments strained his resources, and he borrowed more than $20,000.
As a result, Sha claimed he was required to “return some favours” for the loan.
Sha said he first came to New Zealand not to sell drugs but to collect money for an Australian friend.
The hairdresser claimed to have no knowledge of drugs, but Judge Ryan rejected that claim.
Sha offered to sell pseudopehedrine in September 2018.
The court heard he was caught up with the Comancheros, just as the motorcycle club increasingly drew the attention of New Zealand police.
In dramatic raids in April last year, police carried out search warrants at Auckland properties and arrested people allegedly linked to the Comanchero club.
“You were concerned that the Comancheros may have had suspicions about your role in the arrests of their members and that you gave them a name other than your real name,” Judge Ryan said.
The judge said Sha’s “associations and poor decision-making” were the reasons for his offending.
Defence counsel Michael Kan asked the court to consider giving the Australian citizen a discount on his sentence for family reasons, including his mother’s health problems.
“You know I can’t do that with his mother’s illness. She’s entirely separate and apart from him,” Judge Ryan said.
“He elected to come to New Zealand for the purpose of committing crime.”
Judge Ryan said Sha already received a one-month discount for his lack of previous convictions.
The hairdresser’s daughter lived in China with Sha’s mother-in-law.
Sha’s wife was an Australian permanent resident unable to fly to China due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The court heard the Sydney man said he felt ashamed for making a “stupid mistake”.
In custody, Sha completed a problem gambling workshop and two Asian wellbeing programmes.
Judge Ryan said Sha had effectively “fallen on his sword” by pleading guilty to the pseudoephedrine charge.
He was jailed for three years.
When he gets parole, he will be deported.