Young prison guard 'easy' for inmates to manipulate

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 05:00 19/01/2013

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The sister of a former Waikato prison guard jailed on seven corruption charges says her brother is "soft" and easily manipulated, making him likely to give in to prisoner demands.

Perive Mila Faafitu Matuaitofiga, 25, was sentenced in the Hamilton District Court yesterday to two years' jail for his trafficking of contraband - which included tobacco and drugs.

Faafitu Matuaitofiga was caught during a sting at Spring Hill Prison in August with 41 grams of cannabis, 70g of tobacco and eight yellow pills - which turned out to be class C drug 4-MEC, a base ingredient of ecstasy.

The court heard he had been on the job only six months after completing his training in December 2011.

When questioned, Faafitu Matuaitofiga admitted he had smuggled in six other packages during the previous two months, netting him $3000.

Faafitu Matuaitofiga organised the packages with one inmate, with the pair using a cellphone to organise the deals.

One of the packages was for another inmate. He used Samoan phrases to refer to the contraband in texts.

Police analysed his cellphone and discovered he had sent 133 text messages to the inmate's phone and had received 216 texts from the same phone.

Faafitu Matuaitofiga's counsel, Sacha Nepe, said he had brought great shame not only on himself but his family and the Samoan community.

"In my dealings with him, I have found him to be very softly spoken, very respectful and, if I maybe so bold, somewhat naive... and easy to manipulate," Mr Nepe said.

This view was backed by sister Valaauina Nadine Seu, who unsuccessfully pleaded to keep her older brother out of prison.

Miss Seu said her brother was considered the "angel" of the family.

"He never got into trouble. He was always... the number one child.

"He didn't talk back; if he got angry he wouldn't throw any tantrums at all."

Miss Seu told the court her brother knew he had to be professional at his job but he was easy to manipulate.

"He was an easy target because he's soft... easy to persuade... I just hope that he doesn't go away, because he's the only brother that I grew up with and the only brother that I can count on."

Miss Seu said Faafitu Matuaitofiga's motive was simply his need for money to pay bills.

Judge Phillip Connell gave Faafitu Matuaitofiga credit for his early guilty plea and co-operation with the investigation along with his minimal criminal history, which involved only driving convictions.

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- Waikato Times

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