BCom Student Convicted of Class B Drug Supply

Discharged Because Co-Offending Supplier Was Discharged Too

A University of Otago student previously convicted of selling Ritalin to other students has had his conviction quashed in the Court of Appeal, after his co-offender was discharged without conviction after admitting to the same offence. The Court of Appeal last week revealed its decision to discharge Druvi Patrick Rodrigo without conviction, declaring Rodrigo’s offence to be “drug dealing at the lower end of seriousness.”

In April 2013, Rodrigo pleaded guilty in the Dunedin District Court to selling a Class B drug, Ritalin, between 1 February and 28 September 2012. He was sentenced to 10 months home detention and 200 hours community work. Rodrigo, a Commerce student at the University, was forced to suspend his studies to carry out his sentence.

Rodrigo carried out his sentence only to discover that the co-offender who supplied the “trays” had been discharged without conviction. Rodrigo subsequently appealed his conviction with a new lawyer.

Police identified Rodrigo’s involvement after they became aware of an associate supplying prescription Ritalin to other students at the University and examining text-message data that incriminated Rodrigo as a Ritalin supplier. A police search of Rodrigo’s home on 27 September 2012 revealed 17 20mg pills in Rodrigo’s room. Rodrigo later divulged these pills were sent to him by an Auckland supplier in “trays,” each containing 10 capsules, and that he had been selling the drug since February to students, believing it would help them study. He also planned to use the profits to buy more Ritalin for his own use.

Following his original sentencing, Rodrigo was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), for which Ritalin is prescribed. Kidd urged the Court of Appeal to consider Rodrigo’s actions as directly affected by his untreated condition. The Court of Appeal took this reasoning into account, alongside Rodrigo’s age, his lack of prior offending and desire to travel to the United States and Canada to visit relatives.

Evidence that Ritalin improves concentration in people not affected by ADHD is largely anecdotal. People using the drug as a party stimulant or study aid should be wary, as many experts warn its similarity to methamphetamine means it has high addiction-forming properties and possible long-term effects on concentration.
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2014.
Posted 5:30pm Sunday 23rd March 2014 by Emily Draper.