Convicted murderer Stephen Hudson challenges prison property rules
A convicted murderer is taking on prison authorities as he ramps up his bold bid for freedom.
It isn't the first time Stephen Thomas Hudson, now 46, has challenged his jailers in court.
In 2010, a judge ruled that Hudson's copy of Cosmopolitan magazine – featuring an article comparing real and fake breasts – was unlawfully destroyed by prison staff.
Hudson was convicted in November 2009 of the murder of Palmerston North man Nicholas Pike, but maintains his innocence.
Pike was 22 when he disappeared in 2002. His body was not found.
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Hudson lost his final appeal and is now pinning his hopes on asking for the prerogative of mercy, which might at least lead to his case being referred back to the Court of Appeal.
Arguing his own case from Rimutaka Prison, to the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday, Hudson said he wanted to share his case records with a journalist, and for a time he was told the rules did not allow him to have his legal papers because he no longer had an active case or one pending.
But the decision was later overturned and Hudson now had his papers. However, he continued his case alleging prison rules were illegal for reasons including that it was a breach of his right to freedom of expression because it meant he could not impart the details of his case to the journalist.
"I want to put forward my claims of innocence to him and to do that accurately I can not do that without having the papers."
Prison rules for what a prisoner could have as "authorised property" did not allow for exceptions to the limit on legal papers being only for active or pending cases, and despite that he eventually got his papers anyway, Hudson said.
He laughed when he told the judge that he believed he was given them without authority, "to make the issue go away".
"If I don't win my legal documents will disappear," he said.
Justice Rebecca Ellis said she had some sympathy for Hudson's position but that might not give him grounds to win his case. She reserved her decision.
The lawyer for the Department of Corrections, Simon Barr, said a broad interpretation of "pending" had been given to Hudson's hoped-for prerogative of mercy case, so that his legal papers could be given to him.
The rules were made for reasons including so that staff could move easily in cells, that legal papers could not be used to conceal contraband, and to reduce the fire risk from having lots of paper in cells.
It was also thought that sentenced prisoners having access to legal papers might distract them from rehabilitation programmes, Barr said.
As well as the Cosmopolitan stoush, in 2011, Hudson lost a bid for compensation for the police allegedly using unreasonable force when arresting him on drug and other charges
Also in 2011 he was unsuccessful in a private perjury prosecution against some witness from his trial.
For years the disappearance of Nick Pike had been an open file until Hudson was arrested in 2008 after his former girlfriend gave information to police.
She said they had been travelling south on the Desert Road when Hudson stopped at a side road and told her to wait by the main road.
He and Pike drove along the side road and Hudson returned alone saying Pike was staying to tend a cannabis plot.
It was the last reported sighting of Pike.
The two men were part of Palmerston North's drug world but Hudson also had a long list of violent offending and routinely carried a revolver, it was alleged.