NOT ON CLOUD 9
Pharmacist Hoang Nam Nguyen told customs the ice pipes he imported were candle holders and lamps.
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.