Sunday, March 26, 2017

Suspect Claims Someone Else Used His Computer to Buy Drugs, Jury Agrees

Kyle Nathan Smith, a 45-year-old Christchurch man, pleaded not guilty to five drug importation charges. The judge, Judge Brian Callaghan, agreed with the defendant. He found Smith not guilty on five charges of heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA importation. The 45-year-old claimed someone else used his computer to buy drugs off the darknet.

At the start of the three-day Christchurch District Court trial, Smith pleaded guilty to two charges. One was the possession of cannabis and the other was the cultivation of cannabis. In addition, the court found Smith guilty of possession of methamphetamine.

Officials arrested Smith after Customs intercepted five packages headed into the country. The packages contained heroin, methamphetamine, and MDMA, along with ecstasy pills. Smith was not specifically charged for the ecstasy pills. The MDMA charge encompassed ecstasy importation.

The packages had Smith’s address on the label but not his name. Someone else’s name appeared as the recipient—which further backed up his not guilty plea. Customs never released the packages or allowed them to re-enter the mail stream.

Law enforcement then raided Smith’s home. Prosecutor Donald Matthews said that officers found methamphetamine in Smith’s bedroom. They also found an envelope from overseas and matched the other envelopes. The envelopes, like the ones Customs seized, were not labelled with Smith’s name. And police made no mention of the recipient’s name on the label.

They analyzed Smith’s computer and found “software to access the darknet.” Furthermore, analysts were able to determine that someone used the software to buy drugs.

Smith claimed that someone else used the computer to place those orders. Andrew McKenzie, the defending attorney, said the prosecution asked the jury to make a guess. He said that the case was under-investigated and “It was not clear who had been living at the address at the time. Suspicion doesn’t equal proof.”

The jury agreed. Judge Callaghan told the jury members after the verdicts: “I don’t often say this to juries, but I think your not guilty verdicts probably match the evidence.”

Callaghan remanded Smith on bail for sentencing on December 16.

New Zealand recently claimed that authorities positively identified 200 darknet users. There was no apparent connection between either event. Excerpt from our article on New Zealand’s darknet crackdown:

300 persons from New Zealand were identified by law enforcement authorities during a global police action called Operation Hyperion. The worldwide action took place between October 22 and 28. This was a “coordinated effort” to bust persons globally who are involved in illegal drugs trade on the dark web.