Judge rules $36,715 of cash found under pillow in Napier house is ‘tainted’

A High Court Judge has turned down a Napier man’s bid to get back $36,715 found under a pillow by police in a drugs raid more than one and a half years ago.

The decision of Judge Cheryl Gwyn determining that “on the balance of probabilities” the cash was “tainted” and forfeiture to the Crown was justified, was delivered on Monday.

It follows a hearing at the High Court in Napier on April 19, in which 54-year-old Christopher Lawson opposed a police application for forfeiture of the cash, which had been found under a pillow. Drugs paraphernalia were also found in the search of the woman’s home, a single-bedroom flat in Jull St, Napier, on October 9, 2019.

Lawson did not live at the address, which police said was occupied by two people with methamphetamine-dealing convictions, and he was not at the address.

The woman denied ownership of the cash and in May last year Lawson reported stolen receipts he had relating to the money, and claimed ownership saying it was money given to him over up to 10 years by people he was unable to name, to support his fight against cancer, and it was given to the woman for safe-keeping.

At the hearing, where Lawson represented himself, Crown counsel Megan Mitchell argued the claims by Lawson were fabricated, and that the cash was “more likely than not” to have been “associated with and derived from the sale of contrived drugs”.

Judge Gwyn determined the money was “tainted” and rightfully forfeited under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act.

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