Press Release – New Zealand Customs Service
When Customs officers opened a package of lipstick containers at the International Mail Centre, they found illegal stun guns instead of lipstick. As a result, a 41 year-old sickness beneficiary has been sentenced to four month’s home detention by the Waihi District Court on Wednesday.
Jonathan Norris of Waihi faced six charges for importing stun guns prohibited under the Customs and Excise Act, and three charges for importing restricted weapons under the Arms Act.
Norris also faced three charges laid by NZ Police for the possession of drug paraphernalia and cannabis. The judge looked at all matters in totality for the final sentence.
Customs Manager Investigations Shane Panettiere says Customs works closely with the NZ Police and actively investigates and prosecutes offenders when it is in the public interest to do so.
In July, Customs officers at the International Mail Centre in Auckland intercepted a package sent to Norris from China that contained three stun gun devices disguised to give the appearance of lipstick containers. Subsequent search warrants by Customs and Police in Waihi identified Norris as the importer of the package.
Norris was also found to have imported six other stun guns and six pepper sprays between September 2011 and June 2012. Some pepper spray devices resembling lipstick containers, which had been ordered by Norris, were also found by Customs officers during search of a third party address.
“Prohibited or restricted weapons such as stun guns and pepper sprays are often disguised to give the appearance of another article, but our officers are well aware of what to look for,” Mr Panettiere said.
In September this year, 49 year old Auckland man Paul Barber was sentenced to one month’s home detention for importing and possessing nine stun guns. Several of these stun guns looked like torches, and another looked like a cell phone.
There are a number of other Customs prosecutions relating to similar goods that are currently before the courts.
Around 200 stun guns and pepper sprays have been seized by Customs this year, some leading to arrests and prosecutions by both Customs and NZ Police.