A Northland house that remains New Zealand's largest methamphetamine factory will be sold by the Crown if its owners are unable to pay police nearly $22,000 under forfeiture orders made by the High Court.

The police commissioner sought civil forfeiture orders against Brownie Joseph Harding, his father Joseph Harding, Casey Rewha and the registered owners of the house, Amy Leigh Harding and her husband Te Parekura Elliot.

But in reality, the house at Waiotira is owned by Elliot and Amy Harding's daughter Emmarina and the property was bought by a bank loan secured by registered mortgage.

In 2014, police uncovered a large clandestine lab in the house, between Whangārei and Paparoa, that was used to manufacture 6.5kg of meth worth at least $3m between September and November of that year.

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Ringleader and Whangārei gang member Brownie Harding was sentenced to 28 years' jail in April 2017 after police arrested him for supervising the production of 6.5kg of methamphetamine.

He pleaded guilty to six charges of manufacturing meth, two of conspiring to supply meth, one of possession of meth for supply, one of supplying pseudoephedrine and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

Police arrested Brownie Harding in December 2014 as he drove his Mercedes Benz. Inside the car officers found a sports bag containing nearly 2.3kg of meth.

Brownie Joseph Harding in the dock while being sentenced for his part in meth manufacturing just south of Whangārei. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Brownie Joseph Harding in the dock while being sentenced for his part in meth manufacturing just south of Whangārei. Photo / Michael Cunningham

Harding's two teenage sons, Evanda and Tyson, were also in the car and working on instructions from their father to take the drugs to the Head Hunters' gang pad in Ellerslie.

Evanda was jailed for nine years and six months for his role, while Tyson was discharged on a charge of possession of methamphetamine for supply.

Joseph Harding was found unfit to stand trial by virtue of mental impairment while Rewha was found guilty by a jury on one charge of participating in an organised criminal group.

She was sentenced to 12 months home detention.

In the civil forfeiture orders, Justice Graham Lang ordered owners of the property to pay the police commissioner $21,900 within six months or else sell the house and recover that sum.

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The amount reflects the total cash deposits made into bank accounts that funded mortgage payments for the house between 2012 and 2014 when Amy Harding and Elliot were living in Australia and the house wasn't deriving any rental income.

"For that reason, the commissioner contends the funds used to make the deposits must have been provided by Mr Brownie Harding and represent the proceeds of his network's criminal activities," Justice Lang said in his judgment.

Police and ESR staff at the scene of a methamphetamine lab raid on Taipuha Rd. Photo / John Stone
Police and ESR staff at the scene of a methamphetamine lab raid on Taipuha Rd. Photo / John Stone

Police accepted Amy Harding and Elliot were not involved in the manufacture or distribution of meth and had no knowledge that Brownie Harding had taken possession of their property for his own purposes.

The existing restraining order on the property will remain in place for a further 12 months but will be varied to enable the couple to borrow using their house as security should that be necessary.

Since neither Brownie Harding nor his father had any assets, no forfeiture orders were made against them.

Rewha has been ordered to pay the police commissioner $7900 cash under a proposed settlement.

Justice Lang said police found $9900 cash during a search of Rewha's house in Raumanga in December 2014.

She argued she acquired the money by legitimate means in that it represented benefit payments while she was living in Australia, together with the sale of a vehicle, and funds after she surrendered bonus bonds.

"None of these explanations are particularly credible given the fact that she was found in possession of such a large amount of cash," Justice Lang said.

He ordered that she be paid $2000 and the balance to be forfeited under a proposed settlement.

In July Harding had an appeal against his convictions dismissed.