Guard quits over pizza for prisoner

20:22, Nov 09 2012

A Rimutaka Prison guard has resigned and another has been suspended after they allowed a gang member to order pizza from his hospital bed.

The prisoner assaulted a third guard the next day when he refused to provide the same service, throwing a chair at him and striking him in the face.

The Black Power member, who is understood to have connections to drug kingpin Porky Rimene, was recalled to prison earlier this week after an alleged breach of bail.

During the arrest, he was bitten on the leg by a police dog and taken to Hutt Hospital, where he was placed into the custody of Corrections staff but was not searched.

On Tuesday night a prison guard, who had been working at Rimutaka for less than a year, went to make a coffee while another guard who had seven years' experience remained handcuffed to the gang member.

When the first guard returned, he found the gang member calling for pizza on the second guard's cellphone.


The pizza duly arrived, along with a side of garlic bread, and the gang member gave the guards $50 cash each.

The following day, two new guards took over and, when the gang member asked for a similar service and was refused, he attacked one of them.

The gang member was discharged from hospital on Thursday and, when eventually strip-searched, was found with $200 stashed in his pants.

It is understood the first guard later reported the incident to prison officials and resigned, while the second guard was suspended pending an investigation.

Corrections Lower North Island regional manager Karen Petrie confirmed the suspension and resignation, and said an investigation was under way.

High standards were set for staff and, when one individual failed to live up to those standards, it was hugely upsetting for the overwhelming majority of staff who did a good job, she said.

"Our staff work with some of the country's most difficult and dishonest people and in a unique work environment. Unfortunately, this means that some staff can become pressured and be vulnerable to acting unethically, dishonestly or even illegally."

Ms Petrie also confirmed the assault on the third guard, who she said remained on duty while extra staff were called in to assist.

The guard was not expected to require time off work, and no decisions regarding charges had been made.

A series of initiatives had been implemented to ensure a culture of integrity was "deeply infused" into the Corrections workplace, Ms Petrie said.

Earlier this month The Dominion Post revealed that 13 prison staff had been disciplined in the past three years for smuggling contraband to inmates. Of these, five received only written warnings, and seven were sacked. Another resigned.

In June last year, Rimutaka Prison guard Johan Edwin Clarke was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for corruption. He admitted accepting $2850, sex with prostitutes, and expensive wine in return for smuggling drugs, cigarettes and even dental floss.

The Dominion Post