Four on trial over P lab raid

By Imran Ali -
Police and ESR staff at the scene of a meth lab raid on Taipuha Rd, southwest of Whangarei, in December 2014.
Police and ESR staff at the scene of a meth lab raid on Taipuha Rd, southwest of Whangarei, in December 2014.

An isolated Northland house was used by a family, their friends and acquaintances to cook methamphetamine "hard out" while it was covertly watched by police, a jury heard.

Evanda Harding, Tyson Harding, Casey Rewha and Kiata Sonny Pene are on trial in the High Court at Whangarei for their alleged involvement in the manufacture of the largest amount of meth cooked in the country to date.

The Class A drug was cooked in Taipuha Rd, Waiotira, between Whangarei and Paparoa, between September and December 2014, under the overall supervision of Brownie Harding, who will be sentenced next month.

Police raided the property in December 2014 and arrested 14 people after watching drug cooking and distribution activities for seven months in a covert operation called Operation Easter.

Brownie Harding's son Evanda Harding pleaded guilty at the start of his trial yesterday to two charges of possession of pseudoephedrine for supply and one of possession of meth for supply.

He denied three charges of manufacturing meth, two of possession of pseudoephedrine for supply and/or offering to supply, one of possession of meth for supply, and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

His brother Tyson Harding pleaded not guilty to one charge of possession of meth for supply.

Rewha entered not guilty pleas to one charge of conspiracy to supply meth and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

Pene has denied one charge of manufacturing meth and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

In his opening address to the jury, Crown prosecutor Mike Smith said the whole house was being used as a chemical laboratory where people would sometimes work throughout the night to cook meth.

Defence lawyers will make their opening statements to the jury this morning.

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