The ringleader of New Zealand's largest methamphetamine factory says he wants his day in court and was pressured into pleading guilty out of fears for his family.
Brownie Harding on Monday appealed his convictions and the more than 28-year prison term he was given for supervising the production of 6.5kg of meth.
It is the largest single case of meth manufacturing to have reached New Zealand's courts.
Through lawyer Peter Eastwood in the Court of Appeal, the patched Head Hunter argued he was driven by his then counsel Maria Pecotic to bring about an easy resolution.
Eastwood said the catalyst for Harding pleading guilty was he was under the impression prosecutors would go easier on his family if he took responsibility for the crimes.
Two of Harding's teenage sons were also charged and he wanted to protect his children, Eastwood said.
"Mr Harding wants his day in court. He wants his trial," he said.
Harding's arrest came after police had been covertly watching a bugged house in Waiotira, between Whangārei and Paparoa, from September to December 2014.
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.
Later, however, Harding attempted but ultimately failed to vacate his guilty pleas on three manufacturing charges, arguing he had produced only ephedrine.
When sentencing the father of seven in August 2017, Justice Simon Moore said Harding's meth "factory" was used deliberately to "accommodate your sophisticated and well-equipped laboratory to manufacture massive quantities of methamphetamine".
Justice Patricia Courtney, who heard the appeal on Monday, said Justice Moore "just simply didn't believe anything" Harding was saying.
Harding had changed his story throughout the court proceedings and disputed almost all of the Crown's case against him.
"He's disputed it every which way and still is," Justice Graham Lang, one of the three appeal judges, added.
The third judge, Justice Geoffrey Venning, said Pecotic may have been simply fulfilling her legal obligations and giving advice on what was a strong case against Harding, rather than pushing for guilty pleas.
Crown Law added on Monday that Harding's allegations against Pecotic, which included collusion with the Crown and pressuring to enter guilty pleas, were inappropriate for a lawyer held in such high regard.
The Court of Appeal judges reserved their decision.
Harding's case was part of the police investigation code-named Operation Easter, which was launched in mid-2014.
It began after officers were tipped off about members of the Head Hunters' East Chapter in Auckland operating a meth factory in Northland.
The operation was the first police investigation in New Zealand to use a covert audio listening device inside an active meth lab.
"What is of particular significance, and unusual in cases of this sort, is that the recordings from the listening device enabled the police to roughly calculate the amounts of methamphetamine produced," Justice Moore said at Harding's sentencing.
Police apprehended Harding when they moved in on his Mercedes Benz in December 2014.
Inside they also found a sports bag with nearly 2.3kg of meth.
Harding's two teenage sons, Evanda and Tyson, were in the car and working on the instructions of their father, who told them to take the drugs to the Head Hunters' gang pad in Ellerslie.
At just 18, Evanda was later jailed for more than nine years for his role, while Tyson was discharged on an allegation of possession of methamphetamine for supply.
Justice Moore had considered imposing the maximum sentence of life imprisonment on their father but decided against it "by a fine margin".
"To put it in perspective, it is the largest single case of manufacturing to have come before the courts in New Zealand, and that is by a very substantial margin indeed," he said.
Harding, who had never smoked meth himself, "embarked on this exercise to accumulate wealth", Justice Moore said.
"Even more concerning is your total lack of remorse for what you have done despite your comment that you 'hate meth'.
"You insist you did nothing wrong and even more startling you are recorded as saying that you would do it all again. That is a breath-taking statement."
Harding was called the "boss" of the operation, but Justice Moore said there was evidence he was reporting to a higher-ranking criminal.
In one recorded conversation, Harding was "incandescent with rage" after some of the drugs were lost and he was forced to explain a $200,000 loss "down in Auckland".
Justice Moore said: "Put bluntly, [meth] is the most dangerous and destructive drug in this country. To describe it as a scourge is an understatement. It captures those who use it, even if only for a short period, and inevitably leads them down a path of personal ruin.
"Otherwise-decent people are robbed of their dignity and, eventually, their self-control. The frequent consequence is that those addicted resort to crime and violence to feed their ever-growing habits.
"Not only are they left dreadfully physically and psychologically damaged, but their cohort of family and friends are caught up in the maelstrom of their misery. The unadorned truth is that no part of our community is left untouched by the effects of this awful substance."