A former Napier schoolteacher and a tannery worker will be sentenced later this month after pleading guilty to manufacturing ecstasy and a form of amphetamine when they appeared in the High Court at Napier today.
Former Napier Boys' High School science teacher Reuben John Martin, 31, and supervisor Adam Lee McHardy, 32, now a salesman, were remanded in custody to August 22 for sentencing by Justice Goddard.
Earlier today they admitted charges of manufacturing a Class A drug, namely MDA or ecstasy, a Class B drug, MDMA or ecstasy, and a Class C drug, the amphetamine trimethoxyample, between January 1 2000 and April 19 2002. Other charges of conspiring to manufacture the drugs were dropped.
Martin was represented by Steve Manning, McHardy by Leo Lafferty.
Crown counsel Russell Collins told the court Class A and B ecstasy tablets sold for $60 to $100 a tablet. The ESR estimated that this lab would have been capable of producing at the very least 1.5kg of ecstasy, equating to 15,000 capsules or between $900,000 and $1.5m worth of drugs.
McHardy had been posing as his employer's research and development officer in order to purchase chemicals which could be used to manufacture drugs.
Between December 1999 and April 2002 he bought $31,000 worth of chemicals and equipment, making bogus statements to the supplying companies about his intended use of the chemicals.
It appeared he was given a hand with filling in the forms by Martin, who spent a total of $17,000 on chemicals purchased through his job, and also falsified documentation required by the suppliers.
Police took both men into custody on April 18 last year, McHardy sending a text message to Martin to clear the lab. Unfortunately, Martin was already in custody, Mr Collins said.
Over the following three days there was a thorough examination of a garage converted into a lab, complete with blacked out windows and a ventilation system, on Martin's Greenmeadows property.
It was full of chemicals, the majority of which pointed to the manufacture of Class A ecstasy.
They were highly flammable and toxic. A cause for concern for police because of its suburban setting and the potential for an explosion, Mr Collins said.
ESR scientist Dale Semple, who gave evidence at the depositions hearing last November, described it as one of the most sophisticated labs ESR had encountered.
Among the exhibits was safrole, the main ingredient in manufacturing MDA or MDMA, and a 20 litre bucket containing a liquid solution a stage away from becoming ecstasy.
New Zealand made ecstasy tended to end up as gel capsules rather than tablets because pill presses were hard to find here, Mr Collins said. There were capsules found in the lab.
As part of the investigation both men's banking records were checked. There were unexplained cash deposits of nearly $15,000 in one of McHardy's accounts, and more than $20,000 worth of unexplained cash deposited in one of Martin's accounts.
There had been a dramatic growth in the use and manufacturing of synthetic drugs in New Zealand over the past 10 years, Mr Collins said. In 2000 police found nine drug laboratories, in 2001 41, and last year 147.