Three in court over upmarket Wellington P-lab

By Derek Cheng

Fire Service and a decontamination tent set up near the scene of the surprise clan-lab discovery. Photo / APNZ
Fire Service and a decontamination tent set up near the scene of the surprise clan-lab discovery. Photo / APNZ

Three people charged in relation to an alleged P-lab set up opposite the central Wellington police station have appeared in court this morning - and an arrest warrant was issued for a fourth, who failed to show.

In the aftermath of the raid, police netted more than 1kg of crystal methamphetamine - with a street value of $1.2m -- and about $35,000 in cash from the inner city Chews Lane apartment, as well as from three other central Wellington properties and vehicles.

In the Wellington District Court today, Judge Peter Hobbs remanded Abby Cummins and Kevin Chea on bail until a hearing in the Wellington High Court on July 29. They are charged with possession of methamphetamine for supply.

A warrant was to be issued for the arrest of Kien Dao, who faces the same charge, but failed to show in court at the required time this morning.

Judge Hobbs was clearly unimpressed when told that Dao was on his way to court.

"Well, he better get here quickly or he'll be brought here by police and remanded in custody. He was lucky to get bail," Judge Hobbs said.

Another co-accused, Puthy Chea, was remanded on bail until a Wellington District Court hearing on July 21. He arrived at the Chews Lane apartment when police were already there. Police allege he threw 18g of P into a rubbish bin during the ensuing police chase on foot.

The raid on the 13th-floor apartment on Chews Lane -- directly opposite the central Wellington police station -- came after a tip off from the public in March.

"The police kind of tripped upon this lab -- we didn't realise there would be a lab there, so we weren't prepared for a lab," Detective Senior Sergeant Tim Leitch said at the time.

In the days following the arrests, police raided three other central Wellington properties and vehicles. In all, including the haul from the Chews Lane apartment, police seized 1.1kg of crystal meth -- with a street value of about $1.2m -- about $35,000 in cash, and $1100 of SkyCity casino chips.

- APNZ

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