The arrest of a Taranaki businessman on charges linked to the sale and supply of methamphetamine has sent shock waves through the sporting and events community he supported.
Lauchlan James MacMillan, 42, has been the managing director and shareholder of Fowler Homes Taranaki, a member of the New Zealand Registered Master Builders Association, since 2005.
He appeared in the District Court in New Plymouth on Thursday charged with seven counts of supplying methamphetamine and one of possession of methamphetamine for supply. He was remanded in custody.
MacMillan was arrested and charged following a series of coordinated raids on Monday by the region’s organised crime group targeting the distribution of the Class A drug methamphetamine.
Police cordoned off the Fowler Homes Taranaki offices, at the intersection of State Highway 3 and Corbett Rd Bell Block, and seized his luxury sports car a black 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat from an address in Fitzroy.
His arrest came two months after another man driving a Fowler Homes ute was charged with killing a Waitara teenager in a head-on crash just south of the town on August 28.
MacMillan had owned the company with his former-wife Sandy MacMillan but she was removed as a director and shareholder of the business in September the New Zealand Companies Office records show.
He and his business had a long history of supporting and sponsoring local events, clubs and competitions including the New Zealand Tattoo and Arts Festival, Box Office Boxing Gym, fighter Sam Rapira and Americarna.
The company’s website said MacMillan had 22 years experience in the building industry and Fowler Homes Taranaki built the region’s 2014 House of the Year Supreme Award winning home.
However MacMillan’s name has been removed from the business’ website and the company’s Facebook page has also been removed along with the Fowler Homes Taranaki Jetsprint Team’s Facebook page.
New Plymouth’s Box Office Boxing Gym co-founder Jake Rapira said MacMillan had been a long time supporter of the club.
“We have to travel around a lot for our sport and it does come at a quite a cost. Locky was the one who paid for new uniforms for our team and also helped cover the cost of our travel and accommodation,” Jake said.
“It has been a tremendous help for us. We are grateful for what he has done for the club and what it has enabled us to do.”
Rapira said the news MacMillan was facing drug charges had come as a shock.
“It’s hard to express really, I really like the guy.
“He does a lot for the entire community and the events he gets in behind are enjoyed by so many and his support is invaluable. He does so much for so many.”
New Zealand Tattoo and Arts Festival organiser Brent Taylor, which MacMillan had sponsored for four years but wasn’t associated with in 2018, said his support had been great.
“They have always been a huge help to make sure that the event could stay in Taranaki,” Taylor said.
“He has got a big heart and has always backed local events which are enjoyed by many.”
Taylor was also surprised by recent events involving MacMillan.
“It’s sad to see what has happened this week because he is a really good guy.
“Not many people will give back as much to the community as he has.”
Managing director Fowler Homes New Zealand Tony Hill said he had been shocked to learn MacMillan had been charged with drug-related offences.
“The customers, employees and suppliers of the Taranaki licensee will be in a stressful situation, and our priority is to provide these individuals with support through this period,” Hill said.
“Over the past few days, we have been working closely with the Registered Master Builders Federation to identify those clients who have been impacted. We are working towards establishing a formal process for helping them move forward with their builds.”
Hill confirmed there were currently nine builds under contract with the Taranaki licensee. Three were very close to hand-over, with the other six at various stages of completion. All are covered by a Master Build 10-Year Guarantee.
“This means these homes will be completed as per their contracts, whether the original builder is able to complete the work or not.
“We have now been in touch with all customers of the Taranaki licensee and will continue to work closely with them to ensure the development of their homes continues as planned.”