HELL'S Angels member Lyall Charles Henwood has copped one of Hawke's Bay's biggest jail sentences for drug crimes, including some while he was on bail awaiting a retrial for earlier offences which he had denied.
Appearing in the High Court in Napier yesterday, Henwood, now 45, was sentenced to a total of 10 years in prison for being what Justice John Wild called a "major player" in an organised methamphetamine operation.
Comprising seven years for possessing methamphetamine for supply in September 2005, and three for more of the same while on bail in July this year, it was the biggest sentence in Hawke's Bay since a 12-year penalty was handed down to Black Power member Richard Te Rure in July 2005.
Te Rure was one of 12 jailed in connection with a methamphetamine-making and dealing operation based in Tamatea, including his partner who was also sentenced to 10 years.
Also in 2005, Mongrel Mob veteran Ehau Te Nahu was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years for manufacturing methamphetamine in another operation based in central Hawke's Bay.
Yesterday, Henwood was also sentenced to concurrent terms from one month to three-and-a-half years on eight other charges linked to methamphetamine and cannabis dealing, six of receiving stolen property which included firearms and a police radio, and three of unlawfully possessing firearms.
The charges stemmed from methamphetamine dealing uncovered by police in Hastings, and initially searches of premises leased by Henwood in Irongate and Orchard Roads in 2005. Police found 59g of pure methamphetamine, worth about $1000 a gram at street level, along with cut methamphetamine, and enough pseudoephedrine to make at least 22g more.
They also found other items and equipment used in the making of methamphetamine, and cannabis oil, along with firearms and other stolen property, and cash totalling $6000 hidden in a wall.
He denied charges, saying other people had access to the premises.
A jury at a trial in March found him guilty on three charges relating to firearms, but was unable to decide on verdicts for 13 other counts.
Henwood was released on bail pending a second trial, but on July 25 police raided his home in Liverpool Cres, Flaxmere, and found another 6.5g of methamphetamine, eight cannabis tinnies, more stolen property, and cash totalling $6810.
Represented by Auckland barrister Peter Kaye, he defended the charges again at a second trial last month, but was found guilty.
Justice Wild, taking 12 years as a "starting point," was unable to find any mitigating factors in Henwood's favour, apart from the fact that he had no previous convictions for drug dealing, and no other convictions for seven years.
Saying the presence of firearms and the return to offending while on bail were the most significant aggravating features, on top of the damage being caused by the use of methamphetamine in New Zealand, Justice Wild said he was left only with the question of whether 12 years was too long.
Having cited sentences imposed in other cases, he said: "My answer is it is."
He regarded the 2005 offending as the more serious, at the upper end of a range set by the Court of Appeal for offences involving between 5g and 250g of methamphetamine.