Accused prisoner denies 'bully' attack

ACCUSED: Aaron Forden in a 2008 file photograph.
ACCUSED: Aaron Forden in a 2008 file photograph.

A prisoner accused of conspiring to put a hit on a cellblock "bully" says he didn't have a homemade shank and wasn't in on the plot.

A jury will today retire to determine if maximum security prisoner Aaron Forden is guilty of an attack on a neighbouring prisoner that left him so badly burned by hot water his skin was peeling off.

The Crown claim Forden used a lighter to attack Terry Jason Nahi at Paremoremo prison's high-risk wing, nicknamed D Block, in August 2010.

He is charged with injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. The maximum penalty for the charge is 14 years jail.

Two other prisoners were also charged over the incident - the Crown claims Tamati Renata threw hot water on Nahi and Jesse Ibell covered a security camera prior to the attack.

Forden claims he was only there by coincidence and was trying to break up the fight, so the inmates wouldn't lose their privileges, like buying biscuits from the prison shop and being allowed out for two hours daily.

Yesterday, the court saw video footage of the hour prior to the assault, which showed Ibell pacing up and down the landing where the prisoners were housed.
Renata was busy in his cell, while Forden sat outside Nahi's cell, talking to him.

The Crown says Forden was distracting Nahi and keeping an eye on him, playing the role of sentry.

Forden says the two were just talking - about cigarettes and what they would have for lunch that day.

The footage showed Renata enter Nahi's cell holding a container of hot water and then Forden following behind. Seconds later, all three men ran out and Nahi and Renata removed their shirts.

Renata then grabs a broom and tries to hit Nahi. When the guards appear the prisoners are pushed back into their cells.

Forden - who is accompanied by four prison guards in court - said that while in the cell, he grabbed Renata and told him to "calm down".
"I knew straight away that there was going to be a lock down [because of the fight]. It's hard to get unlocked as it is. I knew they were trying to fight each other so I was trying to break it up and stop it," Forden said.

He says he also tried to stop Renata messing up the cell, including saving Nahi's television. The crown say there was not enough time for that to have happened.

The Crown also say that Forden had a lighter, which he used as a shank to hit Nahi. Forden says he didn't.
Yesterday in cross examination, the crown accused Forden of lying about his involvement.

"It was because Nahi was a bully and a troublemaker and you all thought he needed to be sorted out," prosecutor Scott McColgan said.

Forden disputed that.

The judge is expected to sum up the case today, after which the jury will go out to consider a verdict.

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