Meth cook says lawyer failed to fulfill duty

An Auckland man who supplied and cooked methamphetamine has had his 12-year jail term quashed and will be resentenced.

David George Saggers was sentenced at the High Court in Auckland in March 2010 after a trial in which he faced firearms and methamphetamine charges.

In a decision released by the Court of Appeal yesterday, a resentence was ordered after Saggers successfully argued his lawyer, Eb Leary, failed to examine relevant witnesses, pursue a disputed facts hearing or call evidence at his sentencing hearing.

Saggers has since enlisted a new lawyer, Ron Mansfield, who has been asked to "ensure" Saggers was aware that a disputed facts hearing and resentencing could result in a higher sentence than his original one.

During his trial in February 2010 Saggers pleaded guilty to all but two charges, including supplying methamphetamine.

His ex-wife gave evidence that Saggers had become involved with the drug about 2001-2002 and had started making it at their Riverhead home.

She said he would have a "hive of people around him" and had polythene bags of pink and white ContacNT capsules in the garage. She also said she saw Saggers evaporating clear liquid in Pyrex dishes in the garage and handling large amounts of cash.

Saggers did not dispute the evidence when cross-examined by the Crown.

On the third day of the trial, Leary asked that Saggers be re-arraigned. He pleaded guilty to one count of supplying and manufacturing methamphetamine and was discharged on two counts.

Saggers later claimed the evidence was "inconsistent" and his lawyer had not followed his instructions and that he was sentenced on an incorrect basis, resulting in jail time that was "manifestly excessive".

Saggers disputed several facts including that the ContacNT, equipment and $253,000 was found at the house and that his operation was ongoing for four years and seven months between 2003 and 2007.

He also took issue with the guns and ammunition he was said to have had.

Leary said after Saggers was sentenced his client was "disgruntled" and he advised him that even if he had given evidence he would not have been believed because the evidence was confirmed by an ESR scientist.

"We accept Mr Saggers' evidence that, despite pleading guilty to all the charges save the two on which he was discharged, he wanted to dispute the facts of the offending he had admitted," the decision read.  

"In that situation, proper discharge of his professional duties required Mr Leary to advise Mr Saggers of his ability to dispute the facts by giving and calling evidence at a disputed facts hearing."

Although there were "sound reasons why" Leary advised against a disputed facts hearing it did not "relieve" him of his duty to advise Saggers of the right to request such a hearing. 

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