Selling drugs seemed like one way Jay Lingman might beat serious financial problems.
Instead, Lingman told jurors his forays into cocaine dealing left him with a big debt, and an angry and armed cocaine supplier outside his front door.
That's what the Denver Chance murder trial heard today, when Lingman gave evidence in his own defence.
Lingman was arrested in March 2019 and charged with murder after shooting Chance multiple times in Kingseat, South Auckland.
Lingman, in his early 40s, pleaded not guilty to murder and today told Auckland High Court he got deeper and deeper into drug dealing after his legitimate business stuttered.
"I did a couple of jobs in 2018 but I wasn't getting out of the hole I was already in."
He started pressing more ecstasy tablets and selling cocaine, he said.
"I didn't want to go bankrupt. I just wanted to dig myself out of the hole. You might say the easy way out."
His first dalliances with cocaine dealing involved working with a few associates but drug supplies were unreliable, he said.
"And that's when I met Denver."
The court has heard Chance and Lingman were introduced at the Lord Kitchener pub in Sandringham, central Auckland.
Lingman said he raised the topic of cocaine, and the pair's furtive business relationship began.
"I pretty much was told that he could be somebody that could be of interest to me, supply me with cocaine."
Lingman said the pair exchanged their identities on Wickr, the encrypted messaging app.
"I was pretty keen to get things rolling."
The two later met at Mairangi Bay beach on Auckland's North Shore and went for a walk, discussing cocaine price and supply.
"At that time, it was ounces. He said he had quite a lot."
Lingman said Chance initially offered an ounce for $6000, later dropping the price to $5500.
"He must have been sourcing it from overseas. It was cheap for what it was, and the quality of what it was."
Lingman said in July 2018 he wanted 25 ounces, which would cost $137,500.
"I had about $115,000 so I asked if I could tick $22,500, which he agreed to."
But jurors heard a customer of Lingman's rejected this cocaine, citing poor quality.
Lingman said he messaged Chance about this problem.
"He just explained he wants his 22 grand, he wants it quick, and I better pay him, because I've got a family to look after."
Later, Lingman said a disaster involving MDMA in his kitchen led to some of that product being destroyed and Chance wanting $15,000.
Lingman then told the court Chance was going to South America to source more cocaine and needed somewhere to store his drugs.
The murder-accused said he felt obliged to agree, and Chance placed his products in a gun safe in Lingman's shed.
As 2019 dawned, demand for drugs was high but MDMA and cocaine supply was low, Lingman said.
He said he didn't know where Chance was.
Lingman told jurors he went to Britain, and on his return to New Zealand, went into
the safe in the shed on February 23, opened it and saw cocaine inside.
"I got the master key. I seen some MDMA and some cocaine. There was about two kilos of MDMA and about 21 ounces of cocaine. I took the cocaine. All of it."
"I didn't know when Denver was back, so my intention was to flip it over really quickly, get the money ready for him."
Lingman said a "trusted client" received 12 ounces (340g) of cocaine, on credit.
Lingman told the court he kept the other nine ounces and didn't think the dozen ounces would cause problems with Chance, as long as he had the money.
But the court heard Lingman was at home the next day.
'WOULD'VE TAKEN MY HEAD OFF'
"I heard someone yelling my name out. I knew it was Denver Chance."
Lingman said he wasn't expecting Chance.
"I was thinking: Oh shit, I've gone and ticked out that coke and MDMA and I haven't got his money."
"I could see Denver with my shotgun going towards my front door. He kept asking me to open the door."
Lingman falsely claimed he had a child at the house.
"I would say anything for him to put the gun down. He said he didn't give a f***."
Lingman said he was terrified, thinking: "F***, I've got to somehow get out of here."
"I'd used my [child] as a way of calming him down. He didn't calm down. I didn't have his money at the time."
Lingman said he feared for his life and believed Chance might shoot him.
"I just wanted to get out of there," he told the court.
"He was side-on and turned to face me and sort of looked at me. He was pissed off and raised the shotgun. I raised mine up. I shut my eyes."
Lingman said Chance had picked up a shotgun from a shed on the property. It was loaded with 00 buckshot, the court heard.
"I didn't expect to live if he got a shot off. It would have taken my head off," Lingman said.
"He called me a c**t. Like a sinister tone. He didn't scream it out at me or anything. I just raised the Ruger. I didn't really aim or anything and just started firing."
Lingman said a range of emotions surged through him afterwards - adrenaline, anxiety, shock, confusion.
"I sort of poked Denver with the end of the rifle to see if he was alive. I thought he was dead or incapacitated."
Lingman said he felt compelled to act normal afterwards, and he desperately wanted to get a drink.
"My nerves were shot."
"I knew life was going to be different now."
Jurors have previously been told Chance was shot four times at Lingman's house.
The trial continues.