Dr Liz Gordon: The killers of my grandson were sentenced in the High Court last week

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The killers of my grandson, Bradley Lomax, were sentenced in the High Court last week.  They each got 16-17 years non-parole period. Some of the family were there, and it is reported that they said they did not forgive the two men who killed Brad.

I was quite close to Bradley.  I liked him, flaws and all. He was big and strong, and I used to say I imagined him as a firefighter, saving children and pets from burning buildings and with a big medal saying HERO on his chest.

This was not, however, his chosen road.  While he retained his sweet character in many respects, and undoubtedly loved his son and cared about many of us, Brad the firefighter was in reality Brad the drug addict, gang member and a person living on the dark side.

I am sure that I will bring down the wrath on many in saying this, but while he was the victim of crime he was also a perpetrator of it.  And, more wrath, I do forgive his killers and feel heartbreak for their families.

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It was therefore interesting to read the story of the mother of Kasha Gossett in the Press at the weekend (online on stuff).   Like Bradley a sweet child, but caught up into drug use at an early age. Struggling with addictions all his life, he took a final downhill plunge in the last few years that culminated in the killing of Brad.

It struck me how similar the story was to that of Brad himself and to that of the other killer Cody Martin, who stated he also had started using meth at a young age.  There is little doubt that, take the drugs away, one of these young men would not be dead and two others about to spend their lives in the prison system.

They have all left behind them the chance for a happy, hopeful and productive life.  They have poisoned their bodies with stuff that not only ruins their health and makes their teeth fall out, but also steals their future.

Kasha’s mum is not talking to him currently because of the lies he told in court. I was there when he gave his testimony, and yes, it was hard to listen to.  I saw her there, and, thinking she must be the mum of one of the boys, thought about talking to her.

But it is difficult to do this in the court setting, which as meticulously separates the families as the perpetrators and victims themselves.  Everything, not only the court system, is adversarial. So, while I did not join the ‘family’ in the victim’s space, neither did I feel able to talk with the family of the perpetrators.

I regret this now. If anyone knows the mums, tell them I would be glad to have a coffee with them sometime and talk about the burdens that families face, the need for big action on meth and anything else.

Scanning national news reports while writing this blog, I notice some articles that meth “is on every street corner” in Queenstown and it is going to grow.  Queenstown is a place young people go to work and play from all over the world, and I fear for them. Some will be able to have a few goes with meth and give it up.  But, remembering the hugely addictive qualities of the drug, many will not. They say it is a drug to which one gets addicted immediately, due to the amazing ‘high’ it provides, that can never again be reached. Some will go down the road of searching for that forever.

There needs to be a massive public health campaign in Queenstown warning young people not to try the drug.  Stick with cannabis and, if you must, alcohol. Otherwise, some of them, who arrived in Queenstown to add sparkle to their lives, may eventually end up dead like Brad, or in prison for long periods.

I am not one of the people who believes that a meth addiction is compatible with a life well-lived.  It is unlikely that your high-functioning colleague at work is addicted to meth. But if you see friends or colleagues who become uneven in their daily lives, who are sometimes fabulous and others very dull, there may be a mental illness or a meth addiction.  And, over time, the terrible health effects of the drug will catch up with everyone who continues to use it. And there are no easy fixes, either, who low recovery rates for those entering rehab.

Brad is not the first sweet young man to die because of meth and he will not be the last. Deaths by murder, suicide, health problems and injury are caused every day by this drug.  Purge the country of it! Get rid of it, now! Save our youth and our futures.

 

 

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Great piece Liz. Forgiveness which the sensible sentencing trust does not believe in is in fact essential to allow people to move on and have productive lives. Ultimately it is society that allowed this to happen, that does not say we don’t have to take personal responsibility over the things we do, but when society falls apart individuals fall apart and this is what has happened in the past 30 years. When we have full employment, decent housing for all and we move away from the ‘Me’ society of the last 30 years then we will see real change.

  2. My thoughts and deepest well wishes are with you Liz

    I know the grief that can beset a family stricken by drug use. It is a dark deep chasm of hopelessness

    All the best for you and yiur family

  3. Thank you Liz for giving us an insight into this nightmare of Meth that consumes living breathing victims and their families with no escape.

    Anyone dealing this stuff and manufacturing it should be put away for endangering public health with 30 year non parole sentence.

    No argument.

  4. “There needs to be a massive public health campaign in Queenstown warning young people not to try the drug. Stick with cannabis and, if you must, alcohol. Otherwise, some of them, who arrived in Queenstown to add sparkle to their lives, may eventually end up dead like Brad, or in prison for long periods”.

    Yes well that’s the problem Liz. Mixed messages that one drug is ok and another isn’t. Everyone knows meth is bad and leads to this sort of tragedy. Thing is, they don’t care and do it anyway. We’ve been giving the public education for at least a decade now. At some point it becomes sadly a matter of natural selection.

    • Queenstown only? The drug is everywhere screwing up people’s lives in this country! Not just that, coke, MDMA and Meth and probably many others.

      Meth is very cheap and quick to make, which is why it is the drug of most damage but other drugs are as harmful but tend to be people of a higher demographic. Drug distributors are apparently distributing drugs like Meth in the Pacific Islands so that now Fiji and other places are starting to have the scourge to it’s people!

      NZ as usual does nothing and even gives drug importers compassionate residency here! What about the victims and the families of those victims and the victims of crimes of those victims and the money laundering and corruption off the back of the industry? There does not seem much compassion or interest in prevention of the drugs explosion in the age of globalism, in this region which pays higher prices for drugs!

      We are an Island and it is about time our police and many agencies bothered to start to protect the people here.

      Explosion in number of boats carrying cocaine and meth from Latin America to Australia is causing havoc for islands on the way

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jun/24/the-new-drug-highway-pacific-islands-at-centre-of-cocaine-trafficking-boom

      Note, cruise ships are another avenue apparently to get the drugs in and here we are, turning a blind eye to all the import/export businesses smuggling in drugs and stealing the harbour for more polluting cruise ships to come here as well as relaxing visas for air travel!

      “Drugs come into Australia through a range of means including cargo ships, cruise ships and air freight. A Fijian flight attendant was arrested in December 2018 for trying to export cocaine and in March the AFP arrested two men, one who was an employee at Sydney airport, for being part of a meth-smuggling operation.

      But given the tight security measures involved in air travel, the tightening of customs controls at airports in many Pacific nations and the fact that there are few direct flights between Latin America and Australia and New Zealand, sailing the drugs through the Pacific has become an increasingly profitable and popular way for dealers to get drugs to the destination.”

  5. Ah? Heard of a place called ‘Portugal’?
    Radical drugs policy is working…The Guardian.
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it

    You want to fix drug related problems? Then decriminalise them all. Make the risk of dying of an overdose, usually because of not knowing what’s in the drugs you’re taking or of their potency, of them being so expensive users must resort to crime in order to pay for them etc a health issue NOT a criminal justice issue.
    The very moment drugs are rendered illegal, or remain illegal, they become a resource to be exploited. And in countries like AO/NZ? where our politics are the embodiment of control, conservatism, ignorance and greed? There will be drugs and they will be illegal and they will cause great and terrible harm and they will continue to do so.
    That’s what’s so fucked about the absurd ‘Gun buy-back scheme’ for example. the guns now considered dangerous are still going to be out there. Criminals and lunatics are still going to shoot people with them and the gubbimint has, by its stupidity, created what will become a very lucrative gun and ammunitions black market. Leave the guns out there but lets know where they are and who has them. That way, gun ownership in essence would become self policing. No genuine gun clubber or hunter wants a nut-job in their midst which is why that guy in Milton told the cops about tarrant. It was the cops who decided to not take action and why that was remains a mystery.
    Banning! Does not work!
    I’m sorry for your loss @ Dr Liz. In my opinion, your grandson died as a direct result of conservative politics. Your grandson and his murderers were simply players then victims.
    BTW. Have you seen a TV series called ‘The Wire’? It was written by a police reporter and it’s a brilliant piece of work. In there, a cop has an idea to curb out of control street corner meth dealing. Unfortunately, that cop became the focus of Baltimore politicians because his radicle actions worked so well at getting crime stats down that he made the politicians look bad.

  6. Very tragic story which is playing out in NZ families everywhere. But why little action (just mindless slogans like the Key years) to stop this, which has been escalating out of control for 20 years here. It can’t just be blamed on the Natz as it’s been happening over successive governments!

    Time to start to fight drugs and lobby our bovine government to clean up our country!

    The Green Party need to work out why they are losing support aka too much focusing on decimalising Cannabis than any focus about the growing amount of families and people with relatives getting hooked on Meth and other drugs that are everywhere in NZ and still more and more drugs and drug dealers stream into NZ and hook more young (and middle aged) people!

    Drugs are as much a coloniser of people than anything else because it takes away human capital and ability to organise!

    Drugs destroy communities like a virus and we are already dropping from first world country status to create a third world due to government policy and inaction on many socially harmful scourges in NZ in their self interest on short term economic goals that are helping continue to spread Meth around NZ.

    P.s. Addiction clinics do not stop Meth! You have to stop the drug coming in first of all, the distributions and constant recruiting of members here, deport anyone you can involved in drugs here and zero chance of citizenship, (and allow the law to strip new citizens of residency and citizenship if they get convicted of drugs offences here, because guess how people fund their international ‘degree’ here) while having warnings and hotlines everywhere to stop people going near it.

    • @ SAVENZ
      With respect because I think ( hope ) you have good intentions.
      “Time to start to fight drugs and lobby our bovine government to clean up our country!”
      What? You mean like Nancy Reagan’s ‘War on Drugs’ and her brilliant ‘Just say no’ tactic?
      Yeah, that worked out well for everyone didn’t it?

      “P.s. Addiction clinics do not stop Meth!”
      In countries where there are thinking-person’s addiction clinics; yes they do.
      Portugal.
      https://www.theguardian.com/news/2017/dec/05/portugals-radical-drugs-policy-is-working-why-hasnt-the-world-copied-it

      They way to stop P in its tracks would be to have the Ministry of Health build P labs in the main centres and offer it to addicts free. Nice and clean with a complimentary glass barbi. There’d be a spike in P deaths then that would trail off as wanna-be tweakers would see their mates pile up in morgues.
      [That] would then lead to the end of the importation of P precursor, the local cook houses and the collapse of criminal/gang related business enterprises. Then, you’d see a collapse in the mystique that draws people in to the awful drug then it’d be gone.
      The fact that our gubbimint refuses to entertain new and innovative anti-drug addiction initiatives makes the stink of the rotting rat carcass of corruption ever more rancid.
      When a progressive, first-world country like ours is awash with a shitty drug like P in the face of compelling evidence that criminalising drugs doesn’t work? You know, somethings up.
      In the immortal words of Tom Waits. “ There’s no such thing as dangerous drugs. Just dangerous drug users.”

  7. 17 yr ain’t that bad Liz my brother who got murdered on Waitangi day 3 yrs ago his killer only got 11 years and our whanau were really pissed of with the justice system and the weak judge and the hamilton police who did a plea bargain with the murderer. Now how would you feel about this and what does this say about our NZ police and our rotten racist justice system i think they don’t give a fuck some of them especially if you are brown/Maori. We had to close my brothers coffin cause his face was too damaged now what does this say about our justice system it seems we don’t get fair justice and people wonder why we are angry well what to you fucken expect and there were other issues with the police that i hope to highlight to our Justice Minister our police need to be reigned in some of the bad stuff they do behind the scenes needs to be exposed and how they treat Maori victims needs to be high on the to fix up lists.

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