Christian Clifton was on bail for cooking 10 batches of methamphetamine when police raided a shipping container and found the P cook at it again.

The 48 year-old was sentenced to life in prison with a non-parole period of 10 years at the Auckland District Court today after pleading guilty to 10 charges of manufacturing methamphetamine and other drugs charges.

It is understood that it is the first time that a person has been sentenced to life in prison at the District Courts in New Zealand.

Clifton had only just got out of prison after being sentenced to six years and 10 months for importing and manufacturing methamphetamine when he began cooking again.

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Police used bugged conversations and intercepted text messages in which Clifton discussed large sums of money to buy the ingredients to make P.

On one occasion he had $50,000 delivered to him to purchase "units'' which police believe were chemicals used to make P.

Between April and August, 2009, Clifton cooked 10 batches of P - a combined total of 1.34kg of the destructive drug.

The drugs had a street value of well over $1.3 million, based on a point of P costing $100.

Judge Roy Wade described the prisoner as a "menace to society''.

He said Clifton was one of the country's "most significant methamphetamine manufacturers''.

Clifton began dealing drugs in 2000 and started manufacturing for himself after being "ripped off''.

His lawyer, Paul Dacre, said his client had no assets to show for the drugs he made, aside from a 'computer and a "couple of guitars''.

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He said others benefited from Clifton's drug manufacturing.

Mr Dacre also asked the court to take into account his client's early guilty plea.

Crown Prosecutor Scott McColgan said Clifton was a gambler who manufactured in a "frenetic and prolific way'' and most of his drugs would have made it on to the street.

Judge Wade said: "I have heard that you are a person who not only received large sums of money but spent large sums. In your case it was easy come, easy go.''

He said Clifton continued to cook P shortly after being released from prison for drugs charges.

"Not only do you have a previous conviction but I was persuaded, foolishly, and I use that word as a criticism of myself, to grant you bail.''

Judge Wade said he had thought it was unlikely that Clifton would go on the run but he did not "pay significant regard'' to the risk that Clifton would cook P again.

Clifton's response to Judge Wade granting him bail was to start cooking P again.

Police stormed a shipping container at Te Arai Pt near Wellsford, north of Auckland, and found a cache of chemicals inside, enough to make a further 183g of methamphetamine.

Clifton ran off but was arrested in farmland nearby.

Judge Wade said that if he was to impose a finite sentence, it would be in the order of 21 years.

He said that sentence would be "crushing'' and give Clifton no incentive to rehabilitate himself.

"Life in prison it is. I can say it gives me no pleasure.''