Witnesses to alleged drug offences were unreliable, defence lawyers successfully argued at a court martial.
Witnesses to alleged drug offences were unreliable, defence lawyers successfully argued at a court martial.

Hugs and handshakes were shared as two airmen were found not guilty of consuming and supplying class B drugs.

After a four-day court martial, a 28-year-old corporal and 26-year-old leading aircraftsman were acquitted of all charges by a military panel at Ōhakea air base on Friday night.

The defense successfully argued there was no credible evidence the pair, who have name suppression, were guilty and the prosecution’s main witnesses displayed “uncertainty, inconsistency and plain unreliability”.

The prosecution attempted to convince the court the two airmen snorted class B drugs and supplied them to other servicemen.

Prosecutor Colonel Craig Ruane said the corporal supplied and snorted oxycodone twice at his house in Feilding between November 1, 2017, and January 31, 2018.

He gave the drugs to two men – who were servicemen at the time – and the 26-year-old leading aircraftsman, Ruane said.

The leading aircraftsman was also facing charges of snorting oxycodone and supplying MDMA to former leading aircraftsman Tom Lowther, 23, and snorting that drug alongside him at Lowther’s birthday party, about January 20, 2018.

Lowther earlier pleaded guilty to snorting oxycodone and MDMA, and has been kicked out of the military.

Lowther said he could not recall if the statements he made earlier implicating the pair facing court martial were accurate.

Ruane cited a signed statement made by former serviceman Joshua McEnroe-Sparkes, 22, in March 2018, to prove the men had snorted oxycodone at the Feilding property.

McEnroe-Sparkes, as did Lowther, said he had trouble recalling what happened.

Neither of the former servicemen were sure what were the substances they snorted.

The corporal’s defence lawyer, Paul Murray, said the prosecution’s witnesses were weak. “Both are drug users – across a variety of drugs and over a period of some time. Both are disgraced members or former members of the air force.”

Lowther was several beers and one yard glass deep at his 21st, and in his drunken state could have mixed up who he was seeing railing MDMA, defence lawyer for the leading aircraftsman, Esme Killeen, said.


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