16 Apr 2009

P lab nine found liable for damage to state house

10:58 am on 16 April 2009

A court finding that nine members of a methamphetamine ring are liable for $185,000 worth of damage to a state house has opened the way for the Government to seek costs.

The Napier house, which was used as a drug laboratory, was so contaminated it was demolished in 2004.

The final ruling by the Napier District Court in a test case brought by Housing New Zealand follows an interim decision last September that three members of the drug ring were liable.

Now that the court has found all nine, as well as the state tenant, liable, Housing Minister Phil Heatley says Housing New Zealand will seek costs - and will bankrupt the defendants if that's in the taxpayer's interest.

Napier barrister Scott Jefferson, who defended two of the nine-strong gang, says there is little chance of the money ever being paid and the department was warned about this before the case began.