Drug kingpin loses conviction appeal

By Mike Dinsdale of The Northern Advocate

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A Far North man dubbed a drug kingpin for ruling over a multi-million dollar network dealing methamphetamine, cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis oil has lost his appeal against his conviction.

Maxwell John Beckham, 65, from Mangonui, was was found guilty of 24 charges after a six-week trial in the High Court in Auckland in April 2011. The charges included conspiracy to manufacture and supply methamphetamine and supplying methamphetamine, cocaine, cannabis oil and ecstasy.

He was also found guilty of supplying more than 2kg of methamphetamine worth $2 million, but acquitted on 29 other drug and money-laundering charges.

The wealthy businessman who headed a drug syndicate from his lifestyle block was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years' jail with a minimum non-parole period of seven years.

Beckham's wife, Jenny Maree Taylor, was found guilty of two charges of laundering a sum of $250,000 and sentenced to home detention.

Beckham appealed the conviction while the Solicitor General appealed against the length of the jail term on the grounds that considerations the sentencing judge made in reducing the sentence by five years no longer existed.

In a decision released this week the Court of Appeal dismissed Beckham's appeal, but granted the Crown appeal, quashing Beckham's jail term and replacing it with one of 18 years' imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of nine years. Supplying methamphetamine - or P as it is also known - has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Beckham's appeal was on two grounds - an alleged abuse of process by police and relating to the granting of three interception warrants obtained by police for electronic surveillance.

The Court of Appeal ruling found there was no abuse of process and that the interception warrants were properly issued.

The court said Beckham's lawyer had agreed that in the circumstances the Crown application to lift the jail term should be granted.

During his Auckland trial it was revealed Beckham was the kingpin of a methamphetamine syndicate. Detectives found $865,720 hidden in a vehicle at his home when Beckham was arrested in 2008. Beckham's assets and cash worth more than $10 million have been restrained. He was arrested after a six-month inquiry during which police tapped his cellphone and bugged his car.

- APNZ

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