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Prison sentence only option after chances blown

A man given multiple chances to avoid imprisonment and work on self-improvement has been sentenced to eight months in jail after more drug paraphernalia was found in his house.

Mario Bartolic, a 27-year-old residing in Wairarapa, had previously appeared in Masterton District Court in April 2021, facing 16 drug-related charges involving cannabis and psychoactive drugs.

He was also charged with a breach of bail, possession of a weapon, and failing to stop on request when driving.

A previous search warrant had found scales, $150 worth of cash, and 89 snap-lock bags with cannabis in them at Bartolic’s house.

When stopped by police, a samurai-style sword was found in his vehicle, and records state that Bartolic “took off at speed”.

His cellphone was seized, and police found offers to supply synthetic cannabis, something Judge Barbara Morris noted as being of “huge community concern”.

“That is a very concerning combination of drugs and a weapon in public,” Morris said.

“The start must be imprisonment, as no other sentence would send a message to those who are thinking of being involved in the commercial dealing of drugs and the possession of weapons.”

However, Morris noted that Bartolic – who had previous convictions for drugs and weapons – had entered a guilty plea, had been on a night-time curfew for a “very long time” with no breaches, and had already been subject to restrictive bail conditions.

She described a “life of misery” should he be imprisoned and said he had managed to make great progress in turning his life around.

“I am confident we will not see you standing again in that dock, and I congratulate you for all the effort you have put in.”

At the April 2021 appearance, Morris sentenced Bartolic to 18 months of intensive supervision, and he was instructed to attend a tikanga programme and counselling.

However, despite being referred to community programmes Tai Aroha and Pathways, Bartolic did not play ball.

He did not attend either service, and a pre-sentence report indicated he only attended 28 out of 55 probation sessions.

Another search warrant was executed at Bartolic’s house in September 2021, and methamphetamine, drug utensils, ecstasy, and rifle equipment were found.

In explanation, Bartolic told police that the methamphetamine was his and he “still had a small habit”, despite having come off the drug.

He said most of the glass pipe utensils did not belong to him, and neither did the MDMA.

He noted that the rifle equipment belonged to his father, who had passed away.

Following this, Bartolic was convicted in 2022 of an additional charge relating to drugs and two charges of breaching bail.

Bartolic appeared once again in Masterton District Court for sentencing last month, with defence counsel Ian Hard stating that a prison sentence would not support rehabilitation efforts.

“His outlook is brighter with a mentor,” Hard said.

“I know he’s had a lot of chances and warnings, but he understands that prison would do him no good whatsoever and that this is a final chance.”

But Judge Nicola Wills said every opportunity had been afforded to the defendant.

“Given the history of the matter and the chances you have had, Mr Bartolic, unfortunately I have no choice but to sentence you to a period of imprisonment,” Wills said.

“I really cannot do anything else, given the chances you have had but not taken.”

Bartolic was sentenced to eight months imprisonment with no release conditions.

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