Chemist faces life term for supplying P-makers

By Jared Savage

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A retired pharmacist is facing a lengthy jail term for supplying the main ingredients in P-manufacturing to a narcotics ring.

Samuel Ross Pulman, 69, yesterday pleaded guilty in the High Court to one representative charge of manufacturing methamphetamine.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Pulman was charged with nine other defendants in the manufacturing operation. They have also pleaded guilty.

He had worked at the Unichem Pukekohe Pharmacy for six years before he was arrested after a police investigation into clandestine drug labs codenamed Operation Mordor.

A key ingredient in manufacturing methamphetamine is pseudoephedrine, which can be extracted from common cold and flu medicines such as Coldral, Sudafed and Coldrex.

In October 2007, police were tipped off that Pulman was supplying large quantities of pseudoephedrine. They began covert surveillance on the pharmacy.

Between January 2005 and December 2007, Pulman opened the shop at 6.15am instead of the normal 8am, to supply large amounts of pseudoephedrine to "shoppers", despite being warned not to by management.

Under company policy, only one packet of medication can be sold to each customer and their details are entered into a register.

But Pulman, the sole employee in the shop, was seen selling numerous packets of pseudoephedrine medications to more than 30 customers.

He seldom put their details into the register, or entered the sale on the computer.

On one occasion caught on camera, Pulman sold two packets of Nurofen for $200, rather than the normal $60.

He would store the cash in a cardboard box, which he locked in a side room.

In December 2007, police raided the houses of eight people who regularly bought pseudoephedrine from Pulman.

At the Pokeno home of co-accused Anthony Wikitera and Colleen Palmer, police found a "clan lab" in the garage, complete with chemicals, heating plates, laboratory glassware, empty packets of pseudoephedrine and a "par bomb".

A "par bomb" is a homemade heavy metal cylinder in which methamphetamine ingredients are "cooked" with heat. They are nicknamed "par bombs" because they often explode.

Wikitera told police he could produce a gram of methamphetamine - worth $1000 - in one hour with one packet of pseudoephedrine.

Other labs were found in Te Aroha and Hamilton.

Pulman told police he knew the medicine was used to manufacture methamphetamine.

Pulman was a director of Lifecare Chemist in Cambridge. He resigned last May but his wife, Helen, and other family members still own it.

A pillar of the community, Pulman was involved with the Pukekohe Youth Council and is a longtime member of Pukekohe Rotary, Lifeline and the Pukekohe Tennis Club.

The Government is considering plans to introduce a computerised monitoring network that would allow pharmacists to tell police immediately of any suspicious sales of pseudoephedrine.

The proposal has been dogged by questions over its cost and likely effectiveness, including a possible risk to pharmacists' safety, and gangs resorting to burglaries instead.

Pulman, who has no previous convictions, will be sentenced in the High Court at Auckland in July.

- NZ Herald

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