Prison guard threatened in his driveway

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 02/04/2013

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A Rimutaka Prison guard has been offered a personal alarm and a transfer after he was threatened with a knife while parked in his driveway.

The incident happened when the guard was preparing to leave his Upper Hutt home to begin his shift at the prison.

Before he could leave, a young male approached his car and pulled out a knife, threatening him.

A source at the prison said the man told the guard to "watch his back or else".

It is understood the threat may have been made because of an increase in busts of illegal items during visits to the prison.

The guard was so shaken by the incident, on March 8, that he is considering shifting his family out of the house.

Rimutaka Prison manager Richard Symonds said the guard involved was being supported, with options including relocation, a personal alarm and counselling being made available. Further details on the exact measures taken could not be provided for security reasons, he said.

Threats against staff made outside the prison were uncommon and were managed case by case.

"This is an extremely rare event. Corrections has over 7600 staff working with close to 80,000 prisoners and offenders through our prisons and in the community each year, and we have few reported incidents of this type.

"We take threats against our staff very seriously and will provide staff with all possible assistance to deal with them."

Mr Symonds said he was unaware of any reason for the threat, and working to detect drugs and other contraband was an everyday activity, with the department committed to finding new ways to stop illegal items entering its prisons.

Detective Sergeant Mike Sears of Hutt Valley said a teenage male dressed in black clothing and a hood approached the guard with what appeared to be a knife or some type of sharp implement.

After threatening the guard, he ran down Fergusson Dr in the direction of the Caltex station.

Police had been unable to establish whether the threat had been made in connection with the guard's work at Rimutaka, and no specific mention had been made by the offender.

"Clearly a weapon was shown, but whether it was related to his work or not we are unsure," Mr Sears said.

The guard had been wearing part of his uniform, so it was possible the crime was an opportunistic one.

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- The Dominion Post

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