A Catlins camping ground manager who concealed $50,000 of methamphetamine inside his body on a flight into Dunedin has been jailed for three and a half years.
Glenn Richard Maxwell's tactics to smuggle the haul were not enough to thwart police though, the Dunedin District Court heard this week.
Officers had been keeping tabs on the 49-year-old for more than a month and intercepted him when he returned from an overnight trip to Auckland, in breach of his bail, on July 29 last year.
Maxwell handed over a small bag of the class-A drug that he had in his pocket but declined to undergo a medical examination.
The Search and Surveillance Act allowed police to detain him and a near week-long wait began — referred to by officers euphemistically as "brown watch" — during which he was monitored around the clock.
On August 4, Maxwell passed the three packages he had concealed.
The court heard the total weight of meth was 68.2g, which could have made the defendant $51,150 if sold by the gram.
He also admitted selling 28g in the preceding weeks.
It was not the first time Maxwell had travelled north to source large quantities of P, some of which he obtained on credit.
Judge Michael Turner said the obvious inference was that the man was well connected and trusted by wholesale drug suppliers.
At the time of his airport arrest, Maxwell had been running the Pounawea Motor Camp in Owaka for about a decade.
His business partner, who spoke to the Otago Daily Times anonymously, said she had left the defendant in December 2019 as his life was spiralling out of control.
When she resumed management of the camping ground eight months later, she was shocked by its state of dilapidation.
"The camp was horrendous. All his amusement gear was up.
"I walked in here and there was mountains of debt. I had to work bloody hard to get it back where it is today."
Despite the financial woes, the woman noticed Maxwell had invested in a CCTV system and she said it was clear from footage she had viewed that he was dealing drugs from the site.
Counsel Angus Graham said his client's income, derived from the campsite and fairground amusements he owned, had dwindled because of Covid-19 and that selling was the only way he could support his addiction.
Judge Turner said a report established a link between Maxwell's drug crimes and his experiences as a teenager.
However, he had overcome alcohol addiction at the age of 26 and the court heard he was motivated to confront his meth demons.
Maxwell was convicted of supplying methamphetamine, possessing the drug for supply and an unrelated charge of receiving a stolen motorcycle.
He will see the Parole Board in the coming weeks, because of the time he spent behind bars on remand, but there would be no return to the motor camp.
"He's not getting a toenail into this place again," his former business partner said.