James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

P-accused may get cleaning bill

The man is facing three charges of possession of materials, equipment and precursor substances. Photo / Thinkstock
The man is facing three charges of possession of materials, equipment and precursor substances. Photo / Thinkstock

A Hamilton man facing methamphetamine-related charges could also face a hefty clean-up bill of a Housing New Zealand flat he allegedly used as a P-laboratory.

The man, who has name suppression and appeared at the Hamilton District Court yesterday, is facing three charges of possession of materials, equipment and precursor substances.

He was arrested after police received a tip-off that led them to the Tramway Rd property early on Friday.

Court documents show police found precursor substances for the manufacture of methamphetamine at the property, including acetone and hydrochloric acid. They also found Fuel Lite, caustic soda, iodine, a funnel, steam distiller, a condenser, tubing and a heating element, of all which can be used in the making of the drug.

The 32-year-old caregiver is yet to enter a plea and has been remanded in custody to reappear in court next month.

Housing New Zealand confirmed the property belonged to the state and regional manager Peter McKenna said the organisation was working with the police to establish what happened.

Mr McKenna said Housing NZ did not tolerate tenants using their premises for criminal acts and would evict and charge tenants where evidence of this type of activity was found.

He said the corporation had won a test case seeking more than $180,000 from tenants who manufactured methamphetamine in a Napier state house.

The house was so badly contaminated that it had to be demolished in 2004.

"We charge tenants for any damages they are responsible for," he said. "Where payment is not made voluntarily the corporation seeks to recover costs through the courts. Tenancy managers are trained to spot signs of methamphetamine use and P-labs are identified through routine inspections and by police."

The Herald understands the accused man was sharing the property with his mother and her nephew.

Mr McKenna said it was too early to say if the house needed decontaminating and how much this would cost but said tests could be carried out.

Between 2006 and 2011, 26 Housing New Zealand properties tested positive for methamphetamine costing more than $500,000 in testing, decontamination, repair and in some cases demolishing and rebuilding houses.

"Given that the corporation manages over 69,000 properties, this is only a very small number that have been found to be used for methamphetamine production," said Mr McKenna.

- NZ Herald

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