A Ministry of Justice staffer arrested in a Whangārei carpark was found to be dealing drugs to criminal associates, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.
Abbie-Jane Woodham, who was a registrar at the Whangārei District Court at the time, was busted in March and charged with a slew of drug-related offences.
She was also accused of accessing the Ministry of Justice computer system for dishonest purposes.
On Friday, she was sentenced in the Auckland District Court on 11 charges for supplying and offering to supply methamphetamine, possession of meth and a meth pipe, possession of MDMA, possession of a cannabis plant, and failing to assist police in their investigation.
The Crown dropped 10 charges for alleged computer crimes.
The 30-year-old began work as a Whangārei District Court registrar in November last year and had also previously been employed at the Whangārei District Council.
“You’ll never be able to work in a job like that ever again, and here you are before the court,” Judge Claire Ryan told Woodham, who lost her Ministry of Justice career upon her arrest.
While living in Melbourne for several years, Woodham had also worked for the Victorian Department of Justice and ESSSuper, one of Australia’s biggest super funds dedicated for emergency services and Victorian government employees.
Her case had been moved from the Whangārei District Court to the Auckland District Court because of Woodham’s working relationship with Ministry of Justice staff in Northland.
It was also hidden from the public for several months after Judge Noel Sainsbury suppressed Woodham’s name, former occupation and the details and circumstances of her charges. The gag order was lifted when she pleaded guilty.
Woodham was arrested in a central Whangārei carpark on March 13 and when police searched her BMW, they also found a cannabis plant.
Three days later officers raided her home and found a meth pipe and MDMA.
Text messages on Woodham’s phone also revealed a series of arrangements offering and supplying criminal associates meth, including a meeting in a cemetery.
When police returned to her home on July 7 looking for an associate, they noticed two smartphones and a laptop, which she was prohibited from using while on electronically monitored bail.
Despite talking to her lawyer, Woodham refused to provide police with the passwords for the devices and was arrested again.
Woodham’s multiple bail breaches, including a trip to McDonald’s on her way home from a doctor’s visit, resulted in her being held in custody for 45 days.
“Miss Woodham appears to be a slow learner,” Judge Ryan said.
The court heard Woodham had a meth addiction and used it as a coping mechanism for traumatic and stressful moments in her life, which included being a witness to the January 2017 Bourke St attack when a car driven on a busy footpath in Melbourne killed six and wounded 27.
Woodham’s lawyer Julie-Anne Kincade QC said her client had many reasons not to reoffend and avoid returning to custody, most notably her unborn baby.
Judge Ryan replied: “If she does, she’s inside, baby or no baby.”
“I detect, Miss Woodham, that learning consequences has been hard for you,” the judge also said.
“The only person who is in control of your life and can make your life and the life of your child better is you.”
Woodham, whose parents were in court, was sentenced to a judicially monitored eight months’ home detention.
“If you break it, I can’t help you. I’ll have to jail you,” Judge Ryan told her.
The Ministry of Justice did not comment on their former employee.
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