A Northland methamphetamine "cook" who absconded before facing trial has been sent to jail for 4 years after pleading guilty to manufacturing the "pernicious" drug.
Karl John Hewitson, 36, appeared in the High Court at Whangarei on Thursday for sentencing after pleading guilty to charges of manufacturing methamphetamine - also known as P - and possessing precursors, materials and equipment to make the drug.
Police raided Hewitson's home on October 27, 2007, and found a methamphetamine lab and chemicals used to make the drug in the garage and boot of a car. Traces of methamphetamine were found on some of the equipment but no pseudoephedrine - the chemical needed to make P - was discovered on the property.
Hewitson was to go on trial on the charges last September but fled beforehand, and was caught in November. He subsequently pleaded guilty to the charges.
Justice John Priestley sent Hewitson to jail for 4 years, saying methamphetamine was a pernicious drug.
The judge said Hewitson had admitted using the meth lab to "cook" up the drug once before he was caught.
Hewitson had claimed the lab belonged to a friend and he had borrowed it to make one last batch before giving up the drug.
Justice Priestley said no pseudoephedrine was found on the property but 450g of iodine found in the garage could have produced between 227g and 340g of methamphetamine.
However, the judge said, he could not sentence Hewitson for what the potential yield was but merely on what was actually found - and that had not included methamphetamine.
Justice Priestley said Hewitson was a man who had become addicted to the drug.
"I accept that you have had significant problems with methamphetamine for some time," he said.
He said Hewitson's guilty plea did not deserve the full credit an early plea usually attracted as it came after he had absconded and was "back in the bag".
An aggravating factor was that Hewitson had been jailed for three years in 2004 for manufacturing methamphetamine.
"What is significant is that within a few months of release from that three-year term you are offending again identically.
"It's obvious you haven't learned your lesson or cleaned up your act," Justice Priestley said.
Also aggravating the matter was that three of Hewitson's four children were at the house when the police raided it.
"There are significant risks of explosion and burns from methamphetamine manufacturing.
"You were totally responsible for exposing your family to that risk."
Justice Priestley said the maximum sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine was life imprisonment, which reflected the seriousness of the charge and the danger of the drug.
He accepted there was no evidence of Hewitson making the drug to supply anybody else and an appropriate starting point for sentencing was five years' jail, with an uplift to six years for the aggravating factors.
The judge then discounted 25 per cent for the early guilty pleas, leaving Hewitson with a term of 4 years' jail.
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