Methamphetamine ringleaders jailed

Decades of jail time has been handed out to gang members at the centre of a methamphetamine ring based in the Manawatu, Whanganui and Horowhenua areas.

In the High Court at Wellington today, ringleader Craig Wayne Matthews, 38, was sentenced to 11 years and eight months' jail.

A former Tribesmen member who switched to the Rebels, Matthews also forfeited more than $250,000 cash, 10 motor vehicles and five motorcycles, including three Harley Davidsons.

Matthews, a father of three, pleaded guilty to three charges of supplying methamphetamine and two charges of manufacturing the drug.

Justice Ronald Young said the operation had a turnover of about $700,000 in less than 12 months, involving up to 1.6 kilograms of methamphetamine.

Herre van Niekerken, 39, a father of eight, was sentenced to nine years and six months' jail. Van Niekerken accepted that property valued at about $30,000 should be forfeited, including a gold Pandora bracelet valued at $9237 that he bought for his partner. Van Niekerken also loses a Harley Davidson he bought as a wreck and rebuilt.

He had pleaded guilty to conspiring to supply methamphetamine and supplying the drug.

Van Niekerken's gang involvement had originally been with the Nomads, then the Tribesmen and finally the Rebels.

In a neighbouring courtroom Jeremy "Jed" Shane Horne, 41, was jailed for 10 years and four months.

He was found guilty last month of two charges of possession of methamphetamine, and one each of manufacture of methamphetamine, possessing materials used in manufacturing and possessing precursor substances.

Justice Joe Williams said Horne's involvement in the ring was smaller than Matthews'.

Family members sobbed in the public gallery as the judge indicated a starting point of 10 years - the lowest he was able to go.

"This stuff is poison and you know it because I bet you know people whose lives are ruined by it,'' the judge said.

But he also acknowledged Horne was a ''strong family man'' who had done good things for the Murupara community.

Horne's lawyer Peter Coles said Horne had ''revered'' his older brother and stepped into his role in the Tribesmen gang after his death.

His cousin, Anthony Makete Te Moni, 42, was sentenced to six months' community detention plus 160 hours' community work.

A car that had been in his control had been used as a clan-lab. Te Moni had driven Horne around in exchange for methamphetamine for personal use and petrol money.

The judge accepted this did not amount to "commerciality".

The Dominion Post