The father of a Northlander jailed for his role in the largest amount of methamphetamine cooked in New Zealand has been declared unfit to stand trial due to a medical condition.
Following a disposition hearing in the High Court at Whangarei, Joseph Brownie Harding has been released immediately into the care of his family and proceedings in court have been stayed.
The 64-year-old was facing two charges of manufacturing meth and one of participating in an organised criminal group.
Mr Harding's son and ringleader of the drug manufacturing operation, Brownie Harding, was jailed in April to 28.5 years in prison on a string of charges.
Brownie Harding supervised the production of 6.5kg of methamphetamine on six occasions at a house in Taipuha Rd at Waiotira, between Whangarei and Paparoa, from September to December 2014.
The house belonged to Brownie Harding's sister and her husband who were living in Australia.
During the police covert surveillance on the property, Joseph Harding was seen mowing lawns and doing a number of mundane garden maintenance activities.
On occasions, he was seen going inside the house and moving items such as 20 litre plastic containers and LPG bottles during and after meth manufacturing activities.
The Crown did not allege he was one of the principal offenders but that he provided help in a supporting role.
Joseph Harding has consistently maintained he was unaware of what his son and his gang affiliates were doing inside the house.
Brownie Harding's former partner, Casey Rewha, was sentenced to 12 months' home detention and son Evanda was jailed for 9 years and 6 months for their roles in the meth manufacturing operation.
Two cooks, Jayden Hura and Anthony Mangu, have already been sentenced to jail terms of 16 years and 8 months and 15 years respectively for their part in the drug operation.
Others sentenced for their roles in the operation included Sharn Stanley Keogh, 27, who acted as a "taxi service" by dropping off people and supplies used in meth manufacture.
He was jailed for more than 8 years.