Prisoners bare teeth from tower

IAN STEWARD
Last updated 14:39 23/06/2012

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Two prisoners barricaded in a tower at maximum security Paremoremo Prison are communicating with media by writing on a window with toothpaste.

The two men, one of whom is thought to be serial prison escaper Aaron Forden, have been in the tower since 10.30am yesterday.

They have written on a window displaying the messages: "Peaceful protest against department" and "Contact Peter Williams QC".

Peter Williams QC is a well-known defence lawyer and prisoners' advocate.

Fairfax contacted Williams today, who said he had not acted for either of the men but he would be happy to act as a mediator should he be given the go-ahead by the Department of Corrections.

Williams said he had acted as a mediator in the prison in the past when prisoners had rioted.

"I'm pretty well-known in that prison as a friend of the prisoners."

A corrections spokesman confirmed this morning there had been no change to the standoff between the prisoners and prison guards, who were "waiting them out".

Corrections' General Manager of Prison Services Jeanette Burns said yesterday the tower was within the grounds of the prison and there was "no possibility of the pair escaping, nor any danger to the community''.

The maximum security part of the prison is in lockdown.

The spokesman said this morning that the pair were still up there. "It's all contained and there has been no change."

Burns would not confirm who the prisoners were but comparisons of photographs of the tower-occupiers with mugshots of Forden appear to confirm it is him.

Forden last made headlines when he escaped from the new Auckland Remand Prison, operated by private company Serco.

Burns said the prisoners were in a recreation area of the maximum security wing about 10.30am when they managed to scale the outside of the tower and gain access to a glass observation deck and barricade themselves in.

The two men can be seen in the tower from the road behind the prison. They are dressed in prison sweats and one has a blanket.

A police spokesman said they were in the tower "possibly (as) a personal protest or maybe even a foiled escape attempt".

Burns said there were no immediate plans to try to get the prisoners out from the tower and they were going to "wait them out".

"We will not put corrections officers up on the roof.

"They will probably get cold, tired and hungry. They don't have any demands. We are not worried about this incident because we have got it contained.''

She said staff were unsure of whether the prisoners had managed to take any other item with them up into the tower.

A Corrections Advanced Control and Restraint team were on hand and were in constant voice contact with the prisoners.

There was no shelter at the top of the tower, and Corrections said it would give not them any food or water until they came down.

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