Housing NZ sues after state house used as P lab

Housing New Zealand is taking a test case to Napier District Court this week chasing damages from criminals who made the drug P in a state house.

The agency is seeking more than $180,000 in damages from six people convicted of manufacturing methamphetamine in the Napier dwelling.

"This case is an important stake in the ground for Housing New Zealand," chief executive Dr Lesley McTurk said in a statement today.

"Housing New Zealand will not tolerate unlawful activities in state homes. Where illegal activity occurs and damage is done to a state home, Housing New Zealand is determined to recover the costs of damage from those responsible," Dr McTurk said.

He said the dwelling at 40 Robinson Crescent was so badly contaminated by the methamphetamine laboratory set up inside it, the home had to be demolished in 2004. The costs of this clean-up and the loss in value for Housing New Zealand, and by extension, the taxpayer, was around $185,000.

"Ten people were convicted in relation to the manufacturing of methamphetamine at the property," Dr McTurk said.

"Because the damage to the home was so great, it was beyond the jurisdiction of the Tenancy Tribunal so Housing New Zealand has been forced to pursue costs through the District Court.

"We have successfully obtained an order for damages against the tenant, but we also believe there are legal grounds to find other people involved in the drug ring liable because their activities all contributed to the damage. The case this week will determine if the Court agrees," Dr McTurk said.

"If Housing New Zealand is successful in this civil suit, it will create an important precedent. It illustrates the tough line the Corporation will be taking towards similar cases in future."

- NZPA

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