P lab found in Northland holiday home

By Kristin Edge -

Suspicious behaviour at a coastal holiday home has led to the discovery of a methamphetamine lab in Northland.

Emergency services were called to the house in Dolphin Place, on the Tutukaka Coast, about 2pm on Sunday.

A neighbour said they arrived home to a police cordon in the street and soon learned about the methamphetamine lab as they watched the action from their property.

"Police, fire and ambulance, the whole gig were there," the man, who did not want to be named, said.

"There were three guys and two girls that they led down and put through a decontamination shower area. The cops put them in those nice white jumpsuits and handcuffed them."

He said the owners of the holiday property, which was up a long driveway nestled in bush, lived in Australia and he thought the last time they had visited was at Christmas.

"We don't really know them but I guess one of them will be on a plane and getting here pretty quickly."

He believed the house was rented out as a holiday home. The lawnmower man had been at the property on Friday morning and there was no one there, he said. It's thought they may have gone into the property late on Friday or early Saturday morning.

The neighbour said on looking more closely at the house, towels could be seen hanging inside the windows.

A police scene guard was at the property overnight until a specialist clan lab team and scientists from ESR arrived at the house yesterday to carry out an examination.

Northland police Detective Inspector Kevin Burke confirmed the discovery of a methamphetamine lab after receiving information about suspicious behaviour at the address.

The five people arrested at the coastal property were scheduled to appear in Whangarei District Court yesterday but were held in custody and will appear today.

Those to appear in court are two women aged 18 and 30, from Kerikeri and Auckland, and three men aged 33, 43 and 51, from Mangawhai and Auckland.

They are all jointly charged with manufacturing methamphetamine on July 7, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

They all face two charges of unlawful possession of firearms which relate to a sawn-off .22 rifle and an AK47 assault rifle.

All face one charge of possession of precursor equipment including glass beakers, baking dishes, reaction vessels, heating pads, condensers, flasks and clamps and stands.

It is not the first time rental properties on Northland's coast have been used to make the highly addictive Class A drug.

A three-member Northland family syndicate that used rental accommodation from Whangarei to the Coromandel to manufacture methamphetamine were sentenced to more than 37 years in jail in 2014.

Jane Crompton, her brother Marc Ethelstone, and her partner Dean Frederick Theobald were found guilty by a jury.

The group normally targeted accommodation along coastal areas of Auckland and Northland, and on beaches such as Pakiri.

The latest methamphetamine lab comes on the heels of the discovery of a campervan that was converted into a mobile meth lab.

Police discovered this converted campervan parked on a Moerewa property and collected evidence which will be tested to confirm methamphetamine was being produced.
Police discovered this converted campervan parked on a Moerewa property and collected evidence which will be tested to confirm methamphetamine was being produced.

Police discovered the converted campervan at a Moerewa property two weeks ago and collected evidence which will be tested to confirm methamphetamine was being produced.

Officers were following positive lines of inquiries and had identified two people they would like to speak to in relation to the campervan.

Mr Burke did not believe the vehicle was linked to the record meth bust in the Far North last month where police seized 496kg of meth after it was landed on Ninety Mile Beach.

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