Lawyers finish presenting evidence in drug trial

By Imran Ali

None of the evidence presented by the Crown linked three Northlanders either to the manufacture of methamphetamine or them providing help during the process, their lawyers told a jury.

After four weeks of evidence in the High Court at Whangarei, lawyers representing Evanda Harding, Kiata Sonny Pene and Casey Rewha delivered their closing addresses to the jury yesterday.

Harding is facing three charges of manufacturing meth, two of possession of pseudoephedrine for supply and/or offering to supply, one of possession of meth for supply, and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

He pleaded guilty at the start of his trial on June 27 to two charges of possession of pseudoephedrine for supply and one of possession of methamphetamine for supply.

Pene has denied one charge of manufacturing meth and one of participating in an organised criminal group while Rewha is facing one charge of participating in an organised criminal group.

Harding's lawyer Maria Pecotic said it was "absolute codswallop" for the Crown to suggest he intended to manufacture meth because the then 17-year-old acted mostly as a courier driver on instructions from his father, Brownie Harding.

Brownie Harding was the supervisor of the drug operation in Taipuha Rd, Waiotira, between September and December 2014 that involved the manufacture of 9kg of meth. He admitted drug related charges and will be sentenced next month.

Ms Pecotic said Evanda Harding never questioned instructions from his "domineering" father and did not answer back when told to carry out tasks, including being ordered to drive to the Taipuha Rd house at 3.30am on November 14, 2014.

Pene's lawyer Lucy Postlewaight said her client's involvement in the drug operation was "relatively minor" such as carrying gas bottles, water and ice from the vehicles into the house on Taipuha Rd. Pene neither saw meth being cooked or was involved in the manufacture, she said.

Nick Leader, lawyer for Rewha, urged the jury to look at the imposing influence Brownie Harding had on her life since she was about 15. He said Brownie Harding was demanding, threatening, controlling and manipulating of Rewha throughout the drug operation, although she wanted to move away from his life.

Justice Simon Moore will sum up the case on Monday and then the jury will consider its verdict.

- Northern Advocate

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