Unrepentant meth dealer stuck with a 28-year sentence

Brownie Harding in the High Court at Whangarei during his sentencing in 2017. Photo: NZ Herald
Brownie Harding in the High Court at Whangarei during his sentencing in 2017. Photo: NZ Herald
An unrepentant leader of a drug ring that manufactured the largest amount of meth in New Zealand has had an appeal against his 28-year prison sentence rejected.

Head Hunters member Brownie Joseph Harding supervised the production of 6.5kg of methamphetamine six times - the largest single case of meth manufacturing to have come before the courts in New Zealand- at a house in Taipuha Rd at Waiotira, between Whangārei and Paparoa, from September to December 2014.

The father of seven was recorded by a pre-sentence report writer as saying he would "do it all again".

He pleaded guilty in 2016 to six charges of manufacturing meth, two of conspiring to supply meth, one of possession of meth for supply, one of supplying pseudoephedrine and one of participating in an organised criminal group.

At the 2017 sentencing in the High Court at Whangārei, Justice Simon Moore said it was concerning Harding had told a probation officer he didn't think being part of the gang affected his actions.

In May 2017 Harding appealed his conviction and sentence.

The sentence appeal was postponed pending the outcome of the Court of Appeal's review of sentencing for methamphetamine offending.

As a result of the review, in October last year a new guideline judgment was announced in relation to sentencing for methamphetamine offending.

The judgment stated, among other things, that meth dealers who can prove their own addiction caused their drug offending could have their sentences cut by 30 per cent.

In February this year Harding appealed his sentence for a second time - on the basis that the new judgment had changed sentencing levels for manufacturing methamphetamine.

But a decision today revealed his bid was dismissed.

"We are not persuaded that the matters raised support the conclusion that the sentence imposed was inconsistent with the approach to methamphetamine sentencing adopted by this Court," the decision stated.

"Nor are we persuaded that the sentence was manifestly excessive.

"The appeal against the sentence is dismissed."

At sentencing, Justice Moore said Harding's "total lack of remorse" was also concerning.

"You insist you did nothing wrong and, even more startling, you're recorded as saying you'd do it all again," he said.

"That is a breathtaking statement, which unsurprisingly led the probation officer to conclude your risk of reoffending is high and your risk of harm to others is also high.

"You are not and have never been addicted. You've never been a user of the drug. This means the only reason you embarked on this exercise was to accumulate wealth."

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