Judge rejects gang boss's code excuse

ROB KIDD
Last updated 12:58 02/08/2012
Joshua Masters
EXCUSE RUBBISHED: Joshua Masters, pictured at an earlier court date.

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A South Auckland gang boss's explanations for coded language he used while dealing methamphetamine have been emphatically rejected by a high court judge.

Leader of the Killer Beez Joshua Masters has been in custody for more than four years and is finally due to be sentenced in the High Court at Auckland tomorrow on two charges of supplying methamphetamine, one of conspiring to supply the drug and one of money laundering.

However, Masters - a kickboxer - has been remanded in custody so long he may be eligible for parole soon after he is sentenced.

Despite pleading guilty to the four counts - which were originally part of a 17-count indictment - Masters went through a disputed facts hearing in May, where he tried to persuade the court he was not the major player the crown painted him to be.

Justice Christopher Toogood said, in a High Court ruling released recently, that a series of text messages and phone calls between Masters and his supplier Minh Hong Nguyen - who was jailed for nine years three months in 2010 for his part in the drug dealing - were strong evidence of the offending.

The pair referred to ''friends'' frequently in their conversations, which the crown said translated to a one-ounce bag of methamphetamine.

On the night the police arrested Nguyen, he was asked by Masters to bring ''three friends'' to his Otara property.

When police found him, there were three ounce-bags in the back of Nguyen's car.

Justice Toogood said Masters' explanation of the ''friends'' referring to people or Killer Beez associates was implausible and made no sense in that context.

The judge concluded the offending involved a total of 308 grams of methamphetamine, 224 grams of which were actually supplied.

Masters' denial of any knowledge that drug money was being used to support his music label, Colourways Records, was also dismissed by the judge, who added it was clear Masters was a large-scale commercial drug dealer.

Masters was initially arrested in May 2008, along with 42 other members and associates of the Killer Beez and Tribesmen gangs, after a police crackdown on drug dealing in South Auckland.

Police seized several hundred thousand of dollars worth of methamphetamine and cannabis as well as stolen vehicles during raids on properties linked to the gangs.

More than two years after his arrest, in September 2010 and on the first day of his trial at the High Court in Auckland, Masters finally admitted the four charges.

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Progress through the courts has been slow as he went through a slew of lawyers, causing numerous adjournments and Masters even appeared on Campbell Live to tell viewers he did not touch drugs.

- Auckland Now

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