P supplier just 'helping police'

By Edward Gay

Samuel Ross Pulman. Photo / Herald on Sunday
Samuel Ross Pulman. Photo / Herald on Sunday

A retired pharmacist who supplied precursor drugs to a methamphetamine drug ring has told the court that he thought he was "helping police and the community".

Samuel Ross Pulman pleaded guilty to a representative charge of manufacturing methamphetamine at the High Court in Auckland in May. The charge carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

At a disputed facts hearing today, Pulman took the stand and told the court that he had been asked by police to keep selling the cold medicine to "pill shoppers" so they could catch more people as part of a surveillance operation.

"Pill shoppers" are used by manufacturers of methamphetamine - known as P - to buy cold medicines which contain precursor chemicals used to make the drug.

The police deny ever asking Pulman to sell the cold medicine and allege that he made money from the transactions.

The police say Pulman opened the pharmacy as early as 6.15am - over an hour and-a-half early - to knowingly sell cold medicine at inflated prices.

Pulman told the court that it all started when a "couple of jokers" came to the Pukekohe pharmacy where he was employed, to buy cold medicine that he knew would be used to make P.

"I gave them items because I felt scared and intimidated. I now realise that they took advantage," Pulman said.

He said he had a conversation with a local police officer who asked him to keep selling the drugs to the pill shoppers.

"I felt that I was helping police and the community in continuing to sell these items," Pulman said.

He told the court that he was relieved to find police installing cameras in the ceiling of the pharmacy, as part of their undercover operation.

"I thought police at that stage were looking after me," Pulman said.

He told the court that he did not benefit from selling boxes of cold medicine and that he banked the money along with the day's takings.

"I never took one cent from the sale of drugs," Pulman said.

"Looking back over this, I realise that I was a stupid person. I was naive and I hope you understand how this started," he said.

Pulman had a dozen supporters in the public gallery. The Herald previously reported that news of his drugs charge shocked his local community where he has been seen selling donated vegetables at the local market to raise money for youth programmes.

He apologised to the Pukekohe community today and his "wonderful wife".

"Over this period the impact of all this on my family and myself has been horrific. It's been like living in hell," Pulman said.

Police prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said police have calculated that Pulman sold 1291 boxes of cold medicine before the pharmacy opened at 8am.

He said often those boxes were sold for $100 - much more than the $30 retail price.

Mr McCoubrey read evidence from two pill shoppers who said they would pay Pulman - known as "uncle" - $100 for a box of cold medicine.

Mr Pulman said he never mentioned the price and the money was "thrown" at him before the till was set up, so he never counted it.

He said he would put the money in the backroom and it would be banked, along with the day's takings.

But Mr McCoubrey said Mr Pulman did take some of the drug money.

Mr Pulman denied this. "I now wish I did," he said, adding that he only took the money to cover the retail price of the medicine.

Mr McCoubrey also said that Pulman was never intimidated by the pill shoppers, one of whom gave him a box of chocolates.

He asked Pulman why he never called police to say he was intimidated, if that was the case.

Pulman said he worked long hours and never had the time.

Pulman's lawyer, Stuart Grieve QC, described the case as "extraordinary" and told the court that he would be seeking a psychologist's report.

"Really, he has been a workaholic. Really, he has done nothing but work and support his community. I have found it inexplicable why, or how, this occurred," Mr Grieve said.

Justice Wylie has reserved his decision. Pulman will be sentenced in August.

- NZ Herald

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