A New Zealand court has dropped the charges levied against a member of a rich wine-making family after he was accused of ordering drugs via the dark web.
This decision comes in the heels of a ruling in which an Auckland High Court judge termed the man’s actions of importing banned items as “an attempt of self-medication.”
The uniqueness of this case in inescapable owing to the fact that the New Zealand government moved to intensify the fight against dark web crime over the past few months.
Until the conclusion of the case, the accused faced a total of six charges in pursuit of a police interception of drug packages in early 2017.
Joseph Peter Babich, the 51-year-old suspect of interest, was initially sentenced to a one-year home detention program by the Auckland District Court.
The conviction came after the accused was convicted on six drug charges—five charges for procuring a class A drug and one charge for a class C drug.
Investigators found several parcels of drugs holding cocaine, methamphetamine and ketamine.
Babich conceded to the drug charges, and admitted to ordering the drugs via dark web.
Throughout the case, the accused showed cooperation with authorities by allowing them to access his personal items and identification credentials.
Auckland’s Justice Simon France steered the Babich drug case in an unprecedented direction by providing room for an appeal and voiding the six convictions.
According to court documents detailing the judge’s statements, this decision came about owing to a number of interlocking factors to the case.
In a nutshell, the uncommon nature of the decision followed an examination of the possible out-of-proportion ramifications of the convictions in the context of class A drug offenses.
Justice France explained that in deciding to view the case as a product of low level offenses, he was influenced by a variety of factors that can be deemed personal to Babich’s interests.
His acceptance of responsibility is considered to have been a critical influencer to the judge’s decision—as well as his longstanding cooperation with authorities throughout the case.
Otherwise, Justice France was clear about his reasons for dropping the drug charges.
Absence of Ill Intentions
First, Justice France noted that Babich had struggled with depression for a long time. The man’s criminal record was clean and his behavior throughout the case demonstrated his remorse and a sense of responsibility for his actions.
In addition, investigations did not indicate that Babich was a habitual drug user or distributer.
Ultimately, according to court documents, the judge summed his observations by explicating Babich’s actions to be a “mad-headed attempt at self-medication.”
He procured the controlled substances in an attempt to cure his illness in the face of failed medical interventions.
Furthermore, the court observed that Babich had made significant steps towards alleviating his suffering.
Among these efforts included consultations with a mental health expert, attending community drug rehabilitation sessions and delving into the practice of meaningful community work.
Babich had also received a job offer that would see him work for a wine company, travelling across the world to access markets.
Certainly, the convictions would have shattered his ambition.
Secondly, the court found Babich’s offending to be a far cry from sophisticated criminal activity.
In his account, the judge was influenced by the small scale regarding the drug importations that had placed Babich inside the dock.
The fact that the subject was generally law-abiding also directed the overall understanding of the case.
So far, Babich has spent five weeks in home detention, and Justice France has decreed that he is exempted from any other punishment.
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