Anthony Lynch, the former owner of Whanganui's Fiesta Court Motel, was caught in a police sting after he let drug dealers operate from the Heads Rd business. / Bevan Conley
By Leighton Keith, Open Justice multimedia journalist, Whanganui
A former motel owner who allowed drug dealers to operate from his business and even arranged sales for his mates has been sentenced to home detention.
Anthony Lynch appeared before Judge Ian Carter in the Whanganui District Court on Wednesday for sentencing on drugs and firearms charges.
The 44-year-old father-of-two had previously pleaded guilty to one charge each of supplying class-A drug methamphetamine, supplying class-B drug MDMA, and class-C drug cannabis.
Lynch also admitted a charge of unlawful possession of a pistol and unlawful possession of ammunition.
Judge Carter said Lynch was the owner and manager of Whanganui's Fiesta Court Motel, on Heads Rd in the suburb of Gonville, when police became aware he was involved in the supply of drugs and allowed dealers to stay and carry out the illicit trade.
"There were a number of people staying there who dealt in methamphetamine from the motel premises," Judge Carter said.
"You acted as a middle man using the dealers as a source to supply your own contacts and associates."
The motel also offered social emergency housing through the Ministry of Social Development to vulnerable families.
Police monitored Lynch's cellphone which showed between November 2020 and January 2021, he offered to sell methamphetamine 45 times.
"That information was obtained through communications intercepted by police."
Judge Carter's analysis of the information led police to estimate the amount of methamphetamine offered for sale as being between five to eight grams valued at $2500 to $4000.
In January 2021, Lynch twice offered to sell an MDMA pill, the second time he sought to exchange it for methamphetamine.
Lynch offered to sell a total of 50 grams of cannabis, with an estimated value of $660, between November and January 2021.
Text data obtained by police also showed Lynch messaged contacts requesting they visited him for "Kai testing", "sechs", "breakfast" and "lunch" in the laundry at the motel and rooms 2 and 9.
Lynch also bragged that one of the dealers staying had the "best in town".
During a police raid on the motel at 2.07pm on December 18, 2020, Lynch was found naked with a woman in the manager's quarters along with drug paraphernalia, including a broken meth pipe, a bong and syringes.
In February 2021 Lynch was located by police in the driver's seat of a white BMW.
Officers found a cut-down 12-gauge shotgun, 12 rounds of ammunition inside a bag in the boot, along with a used meth pipe and a knife hidden under the driver's floor mat.
Lynch told police he had owned the Fiesta Motel for more than two years but had just sold it.
While the Crown submitted Lynch played a significant role in running his own small-scale drug dealing operation, the defence argued he was more of a middle man who acted as a go-between for the dealers at the motel and his associates.
Judge Carter said the exact amount of methamphetamine Lynch sold was not known.
"The amount of methamphetamine alleged to have been dealt is an estimate based on data," he said.
"There were 45 offers to sell but the defence points out there were not necessarily 45 actual sales concluded.
"I consider that there is some uncertainty about the amount of methamphetamine that was involved here and I would put your role as more in the lesser category."
He began with a sentencing starting point of 21 months imprisonment on the charge of supplying methamphetamine and increased it by three months for the other drugs charges and nine months for the firearms charges.
A 20 per cent reduction was given for Lynch's early guilty plea, along with a further eight months deducted for the time he spent on EM bail.
Judge Carter then converted the sentence of 18 months and two weeks imprisonment to nine months and one week of home detention.
He also ordered the destruction of the shotgun, ammunition, knife, drugs and drug-related items, including a cellphone.