Head Hunter William 'Bird' Hines jailed for 18 years on methamphetamine charges

Three Head Hunters gang members have been given long jail sentences on a raft of methamphetamine charges.

Notorious gangster William "Bird" Hines, in the High Court at Auckland on Monday, was jailed for more than 18 years, with a minimum non-parole period of 8 years, 4 months.

The 64-year-old's ill health was taken into account or he may have faced a heftier term.

Hines' second-in-command, 38-year-old Travis James Sadler, was also jailed for just over 18 years, with a non parole period of nine years.

The family of accomplice Te Here Maihi Maaka swore at the judge as he was jailed for more than 16 years, with a non parole period of just over seven years.

Hines has previously been described as sitting at the top table of the Head Hunters.

In 1989, Hines was caught with a loaded pistol in the lounge bar of a hotel.

He was one of four convicted of kidnapping a man at gunpoint, torturing him with pliers and an electric drill in a garage, because of a supposed debt. The guilty verdict came despite the victim refusing to give evidence.

In sentencing Hines to four years in prison, Justice Robertson said no one was above the law.

"You just take the law into your own hands and use whatever is necessary to get what you perceive is your entitlement."

Five years later, Hines and two other Head Hunters confronted an undercover police officer and held him at knifepoint.

"If you do not prove you are not a cop, then you are not leaving here," was how Crown prosecutor Kieran Raftery recounted the conversation at the 1996 trial.

The undercover officer, whose cover story was running a scrap metal yard, feigned fury at the allegation but was taken upstairs to his living quarters where Hines and the others searched through his belongings for proof of his identity.

The officer managed to buy some time but was unable to entirely satisfy his captors.

"They let him know that he was not off the hook," said Raftery.

Four days later, one of the men returned to threaten him again, but they seemed to accept his denials after that.

Hines was convicted of kidnapping and jailed for 12 months.

Hines was later one of the ringleaders of a network which dubbed themselves the "Methamphetamine Makers Co Ltd".

Hines was sentenced to seven years in prison for conspiracy to supply.

At the time, police said the Head Hunters network played a significant role in establishing the P trade in New Zealand.

Additional reporting: Jared Savage

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