Police probing events that lead to inmate death at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison

Police are still investigating the death of an inmate at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison on Friday.
BILL KEARNS

Police are still investigating the death of an inmate at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison on Friday.

Hawke's Bay police have confirmed the inmate who died at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison on Friday suffered a "medical event". 

Inmate Kolby Heta, 33, was found by staff on Friday afternoon who tried to revive him, but were unsuccessful. 

Detective Senior Sergeant Martin James said the man had died from a medical event, but what had caused it was still unknown. 

A post-mortem had been conducted, but further forensic testing would need to be done, James said. 

READ MORE: Inmate dead at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison

"Detectives are examining the period leading up to his death and awaiting further post-mortem results." 

Any criminal involvement had been ruled out, and there were no banned materials found in Heta's cell. 

There was also no suggestion Heta had taken his own life, James said. 

Police are investigating the death on behalf of the coroner. 

Heta's body has been returned to family, and it is believed a tangi for him will be held this week in Gisborne.

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He is understood to have an extensive criminal record which includes stealing motor vehicles, assaulting police and disorderly behaviour. 

In 2007 it was reported that Heta, believed to have Black Power gang affiliations at the time, escaped from Gisborne police station after being remanded in custody on an aggravated robbery charge.  

The death follows a marked rise in the number of unnatural deaths and self-harm incidents in prisons in 2015/16, with 11 deaths and 26 self-harm incidents, up from eight deaths and four incidents a year earlier.

In 2013/14, there were three deaths and 17 self-harm incidents.

 - Stuff

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