Assault, aggravated robbery, grevious bodily harm in the course of several car-jackings and other robberies in the Auckland district up to November 2002
Assaulted four women in five days
Numerous violent offences since 1993
Sentenced to preventive detention - but with only a 6 year 6 month non parole period - in May 2004
Eligible for possible release from prison May 2009
Appeal Court decisionhere
From Dominion Post story 18th November 2004
A man sentenced to preventive detention for a series of violent, drug-crazed robberies has had an appeal against his sentence dismissed after revelations he is using the drug P while in prison. The Corrections Department has said its "war on drugs" is bringing down drug-use rates in prisons, but prison sources told The Dominion Post the use of pure methamphetamine has become "a scourge", as its small size makes it impossible to keep out of jails.
Charles Edwards, 28, was handed the open-ended sentence at Auckland District Court in May after pleading guilty to charges including kidnapping, grievous bodily harm and aggravated robbery after a violent five-day crime spree in Auckland in November 2002. He bashed a 40-year-old bar owner with an iron bar, knocking her out. When she regained consciousness he hit her again, leaving her with brain damage. He then stole $1100. Three days later, he tried to steal a van with a young mother and six children inside. He punched the woman repeatedly in the face in frustration when he could not start the van.
A pre-sentence psychiatric report by Ian Goodwin of Auckland's Mason Clinic said Edwards' offending was "significantly affected" by his use of the drug. But the report said he "continues to use methamphetamine while in prison and does not see any need to alter this behaviour". During the appeal, crown lawyer Brent Stanaway pointed to this continued use and said further offending was directly linked to it. Defence lawyer Mary Kennedy argued for a fixed-length term of imprisonment, saying treatment and counselling could reduce the risk of future drug dependency.
The three appeal judges ruled it was "of considerable concern" that custody and the prospect of preventive detention were no barrier to Edwards' continuing drug use. Considering his "brutal and terrifying violence," they felt his original sentence was fair and dismissed his appeal. A prison source said P had become a huge concern for officers, who were being trained to deal with those under the influence of the drug. Though most users would be caught by drug tests, by then the damage was done. It was impossible to stop the drug being brought in as tiny but powerful quantities could easily be stored behind the lips or in the roof of the mouth. A "point" - a tenth of a gram, enough for several "hits" - of P could be concealed under the thumbnail.
Corrections national crime prevention coordinator Tony Coyle acknowledged drug use was a security problem in prisons, as drug trafficking and use led to stand-overs, assaults and pressure on visitors to bring in drugs. Drug use by inmates was treated seriously and Corrections' "war against drugs" was proving effective. For the year ending June 30, 2004, 2937 random drug tests were carried out on inmates, with 17.13 per cent testing positive for drugs, the lowest figure ever recorded. However, National law and order spokesman Tony Ryall said the Government was soft on drug offenders in prison and did not have the resources or will to catch or prosecute them.
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