A family of armed drug runners arrested at gunpoint by the armed offenders squad in New Plymouth have been sentenced to jail.
Their arrest on August 24 last year followed an overnight methamphetamine courier run.
Two sisters - one of them nearly nine months pregnant - and their partners travelled from Auckland to the home of New Plymouth drug dealer Tommy White, who was jailed for 39 months for his part in August.
They got only a few hundred metres on their return trip when the AOS surrounded their Jaguar outside the Ugly Duck bar in Fitzroy.
Yesterday in the New Plymouth District Court, "mastermind" Oscar Chand, 42, of Auckland received a 3 year 9 month sentence.
His daughter and her partner Maxien Chand, 23, and Halen Ryder, 28, received 4 years 3 months and 4 years 9 months respectively.
Daniel Pue, 21, received 18 months.
Charges were later dropped against Maxien Chand's younger sister Jessica Chand, Pue's partner.
In July, Oscar Chand, Maxien Chand and Ryder were all found guilty at trial of dealing methamphetamine, dropping off 25.9 grams of 71 per cent pure meth at White's Fitzroy home in the early hours.
Maxien Chand, Ryder and Pue were also found guilty of possessing a loaded revolver stashed under the front seat of Pue's Jaguar.
The group was unaware they had been under surveillance by police.
In sentencing Judge Allan Roberts said the drug run was "a planned and synchronised operation".
Phone records between the two groups clearly showed what was happening.
The methamphetamine was an amount of significance and the purity was high, so the operation would have been very close to the manufacturer, the judge said.
Oscar Chand was the ringmaster, "the man pulling the strings", Judge Roberts said.
While all accused said they did not know of the loaded gun's existence, this was "implausible in the extreme".
Oscar Chand's phone communications showed that he "simply did not trust White".
The firearm, stashed underneath the front passenger's seat, was loaded, on hand and there available for use, the judge said.
The judge reduced the starting point sentences for all but Pue by 10 per cent to acknowledge their time on electronic bail.
Earlier, Crown prosecutor Justin Marinovich said none of the four showed any remorse.
"All chambers were fully loaded and ready to be used," he said of the revolver.
The lack of remorse could be seen with Maxien Chand's communication with the Taranaki Daily News complaining with the way she was dealt with by police, he said.
In September the Daily News revealed she had complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority claiming police had endangered the life of her then unborn child.
This complaint was rejected by the authority.
For Oscar Chand, counsel Ron Mansfield said his client had no criminal drug history.
For 16 years he had worked as a fitter and turner but left due to ill health and "sadly this has led to these circumstances".
For Maxien Chand, Julian Hannam asked for a merciful sentence of home detention. She acknowledged her drug use and wanted to rehabilitate after the birth of her child.
Pue's counsel Paul Keegan asked for home or community detention for his client who was "salvageable" despite making some poor decisions and being influenced by his situation.
Patrick Mooney for Ryder said his client appeared to be "making up the numbers as a courier" during the operation.
Judge Roberts ordered the confiscation of Pue's Jaguar car and the $40,000 drug money found in Maxien Chand's handbag.
Following sentencing, several of the defence lawyers said their clients were likely to appeal their convictions and sentences.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What do you think of Maori trying to restrict access to the breakwater?Related story: Iwi may disrupt access