Prisoner admits assault on Corrections officer

17:00, May 08 2012

A Hawke's Bay Regional Prison inmate who took part in last year's 24-hour rooftop protest has admitted punching a Corrections officer in the face.

Appearing in Hastings District Court yesterday, Leo Winitana, 19, pleaded guilty to assaulting a Corrections officer in his cell.

On November 15, Winitana was asked to stand facing the wall of his prison cell while a Corrections officer entered and gave him a routine "rub down". All maximum security prisoners are frisked before going to the exercise yard.

Winitana, who had ripped sheets wrapped around both hands, turned and punched the officer twice in the face.

Two other officers quickly restrained the prisoner. The Corrections officer suffered bruising to the face.

Lawyer Eric Forster said the officer's earlier comments to Winitana had encouraged him to react, but he accepted that what he did was wrong.

Last September, Winitana pleaded guilty to unlawful assembly following his involvement in the rooftop protest in June 2011.

He and four others smashed through a cell wall and skylight giving them access to the roof. The prisoners allegedly threatened and abused staff for 24 hours before surrendering the next day.


The Dominion Post