Man raped in prison pleaded with PM for help

BY IAN STEWARD
Last updated 05:00 27/10/2009

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A prisoner who killed himself after being raped by a cellmate wrote to Prime Minister John Key and the head of Corrections begging to be allowed into rehabilitation programmes.

Michael Graham Maxwell, 24, was later transferred to the Kia Marama programme for child-sex offenders at Rolleston Prison.

Lawyer Shannon-Leigh Litt said Maxwell felt "sexualised" by other members of the Kia Marama programme, and she questioned the wisdom of placing a rape victim with rapists and sex offenders.

Maxwell died in Christchurch Hospital on October 16 after being found in his Christchurch Men's Prison cell on October 10.

Maxwell was repeatedly raped in 2005 by cellmate Dean Noble.

Maxwell's parole report from January 2009 showed he was being held at Wanganui Prison, where he was unable to access treatment after his rape. "He needs to access ACC counselling for personal issues. It is apparently not available at this prison. It is an urgent need for him and we strongly support and recommend it," the report said.

Maxwell recognised his need for treatment and wrote to Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews and Key, saying his situation was particularly bad "because the Department of Corrections cannot guarantee me my safety".

"I PLEAD with you, Please Please HELP me to get back to my family so I may get on with my REHABILITATION."

Maxwell wrote that being in the North Island meant he was separated from his children and his family, including a grandmother who died while he was away.

"I take full responsibility for all my actions, but I have not got the heart for this life any more," he wrote.

A Corrections manager replied to Maxwell's letters, saying he would be transferred to the Kia Marama programme.

Litt said she questioned Maxwell's suitability for the programme.

Maxwell had a conviction for sex with an underage girl, but had been recalled to prison for robbery and burglary offences, she said.

"He was fearful of them [the other prisoners]," she said.

"He spoke of one of the prisoners looking at him in a sexual way.

"It brought back the memories of Dean Noble."

Maxwell was transferred to Christchurch Men's Prison, from Rolleston, for possessing marijuana and violence towards another inmate.

Prison sources said Maxwell killed himself after prisoners taunted him that Noble was coming to the same prison.

Friend Rachel Moylan said Maxwell was convicted of having sex with a 14-year-old girl when he was 19.

Moylan said she thought Maxwell used the conviction to get transferred to Kia Marama for safety.

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"There was a hit put out on him in prison. He used that to get away from [the] general population," she said.

Corrections have declined to comment, citing an investigation into the death in custody.

- The Press

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