Meth lab hidden from parents

A MAN who set up a mobile methamphetamine lab in his parents' home without their knowledge escaped jail yesterday after the judge said he saw "considerable hope for rehabilitation".

Nathan Robert Howlett pleaded guilty in Bundaberg District Court to producing more than two grams of a dangerous drug, and possessing items used in connection with drug offences.

Crown prosecutor Lily Brisick told the court police raided an address last August where the 23 year old lived with his parents.

There they found Howlett, who confessed he had set up a mobile laboratory and produced speed over a 12-month period.

Ms Brisick said police also found utensils and materials used to produce and use drugs and the Crown accepted Howlett was taking drugs at the time. Howlett also admitted he had used speed for five to six years.

Defence barrister Peter Richards said his client was dependant on drugs at the time, but since then had turned his life around, taking on an electrical apprenticeship with his father.

In sentencing Howlett to 12 months' imprisonment wholly suspended for two years for producing a dangerous drug, Judge John Robertson said the case was quite unusual because despite his significant drug habit, Howlett was able to hold down a job and maintain critical family relationships.

"There is considerable hope for rehabilitation," he said.

The judge told Howlett that speed was a particularly nasty form of a dangerous drug and if he failed to stay away from the substance, he would almost certainly end up committing future offences and would go to jail.

"The choice to stick a needle in your arm is a choice you make," Judge Robertson said.

The judge urged Howlett to acknowledge the supportive role his parents had played by allowing him to continue to reside with them despite him hiding the mobile drug lab in their family home, and to think about his future.

Howlett was also sentenced to two years' probation.


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