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Harsh sentence for P cook 'doesn't set a precedent' September 22, 2011 - nzherald.co.nz
The life sentence imposed on a methamphetamine cook doesn't set a legal precedent, says a former drug squad cop.
Christian Clifton, 48, was sentenced to a life in prison with a non-parole period of 10 years at the Auckland District Court yesterday.
It is believed to be the first time a life imprisonment sentence has been handed out at district court level.
The managing director of drug education organisation Methcon, Dale Kirk, said the sentencing was good but it didn't mean other judges would take the same path in the future.
"It doesn't set a legal precedent but it ups the bar generally and may be a deterrent for some people.
"But it is a business and it makes people a lot of money and there continues to be a lot of demand for it. Just because you see one cook put away you're not going to stop seeing methamphetamine in New Zealand."
He welcomed the sentence because although people had been given life sentences for importing methamphetamine, none had for cooking it.
The judge described Mr Clifton as one of the country's most prolific manufacturers who had been making the drug since 2000.
In just five months in 2009, he manufactured 10 batches of P that had a combined street worth of over $1.3m.
Mr Clifton had been previously sentenced to jail time for cooking and manufacturing meth, and was most recently caught cooking 10 batches of the drug while on bail.
Fellow cooks in the methamphetamine business may take note, but many will just become more careful, Mr Kirk said.
"He was obviously a gang cook and when he falls down someone else will come along and take his place. The demand for the drug is still there.
"I think (cooks) will take notice of it, it'll certainly be news, but they are not going to stop."
Meth-related convictions have been on the rise in New Zealand, with a recent report showing the numbers had more than doubled from 2004 to 2010.
The United Nation's report on amphetamines and ecstasy said seizures of methamphetamine grew more than 50 per cent from 2009 to 2010, and more than half the amount seized in 2010 was confiscated at the border.
Most P is produced and old locally within the country, the report said.
BIG P SENTENCES
1) Operation Major: Wei Feng Pan and Ming Chin Chen (life) Li Fan (19 years), Guo Wei Deng (17 years)
2) Operation Colossus: Albert John Rhodes (life), Stephen Kissling (20 years) Paul Robinson (16 years)
3) Operation Ice Age: Tac Kin Voong (18 years) Yihia Luo (15.5 years)
"In New Zealand, the most commonly abused drugs in this group are methamphetamine, amphetamine, Ecstasy and the prescription drug Ritalin.
On the street, methamphetamine has a range of nicknames including "speed", "pure", "P" "burn" "goey", "crank", "meth", "crystal", "ice" and "Ya Ba". It can be a powder, a crystal 'rock' like form, or a pill."