Phar­ma­cist Hoang Nam Nguyen told cus­toms the ice pipes he im­ported were can­dle hold­ers and lamps.

The West Australian - - FRONT PAGE - Elle Far­cic

A phar­ma­cist who il­le­gally im­ported more than 2000 ice pipes into WA tried to con­vince cus­toms of­fi­cers they could be used as can­dle hold­ers and kerosene lamps.

The head of the Cloud 9 em­pire, Hoang Nam Nguyen, or­dered the Sweet Puff Hol­land glass pipes from In­dia and China in 2014 to sell at his first smoke shop.

Af­ter cus­toms of­fi­cers opened the pack­ages, which were ad­dressed to his Edge­wa­ter phar­macy, Nguyen told them the pipes were used as can­dle hold­ers, kerosene lamps or for smok­ing to­bacco.

The fa­ther of three is now at risk of be­ing dereg­is­tered as a phar­ma­cist af­ter plead­ing guilty to three counts of im­port­ing pro­hib­ited prod­ucts.

In Perth Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day, Nguyen’s lawyer Dar­ryl Ryan said his client did not smoke and was not fa­mil­iar with the way peo­ple used meth.

“To be fair to Mr Nguyen, he is not a smoker, he has not had any­thing to do with metham­phetamine,” he said.

“In his mind he was of the view that these pipes were for to­bacco.”

But Mag­is­trate El­iz­a­beth Woods told the court it was “naivety in the ex­treme” to think a phar­ma­cist did not know how peo­ple used il­licit drugs.

The 70¢ glass pipes are sold for be­tween $60 and $120 at Cloud 9 stores and they could have net­ted Nguyen up to $240,120. In an email to one of the sup­pli­ers, Nguyen sug­gested they put flow­ers in the pack­age to de­ter cus­toms of­fi­cers from check­ing the box.

He also took on board a sug­ges­tion that the glass pipes should not be sent to his smoke shop be­cause of the name of the busi­ness.

Mr Ryan said Nguyen was not be­ing de­cep­tive and was sim­ply anx­ious about the stock for his new busi­ness be­ing held up.

He urged Ms Woods to grant Nguyen a spent con­vic­tion, say­ing his ca­reer as a phar­ma­cist would be in jeop­ardy with­out one. The ap­pli­ca­tion was op­posed by prose­cu­tor An­thony Willinge, who de­scribed meth as a de­struc­tive drug that harmed users, their fam­i­lies and the com­mu­nity.

Mr Willinge said Nguyen tried to con­ceal his crimes and made a far-fetched at­tempt at mis­lead­ing cus­toms. Ms Woods will sen­tence Nguyen this month.

To be fair to Mr Nguyen, he is not a smoker. Dar­ryl Ryan, de­fence lawyer

Hoang Nguyen runs from court yes­ter­day and, inset, one of his shops. Pic­ture: Michael O’Brien

Work­ing out In a gym.

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