Killer sending 'selfies' from prison

Last updated 05:00 12/04/2014
Buddy Campbell
THROUGH THE BARS: Facebook selfies claimed to depict Napier killer Buddy Campbell, who is in Rimutaka Prison.

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Multimillion-dollar cellphone jammers appear not to have stopped a killer at Rimutaka Prison posting Facebook "selfie" photos from behind bars.

Cellphones are banned in prisons, and inmates are forbidden from using the internet.

Rimutaka Prison's award-winning cellphone jamming system was introduced in 2009 to block calls, preventing inmates using smuggled cellphones to organise crimes beyond the gates.

However, a source has identified "selfie" photos posted last month on a Facebook profile as being Rimutaka inmate Buddy Edward Campbell, who was jailed after beating his friend to death in 1996, when Campbell was 17.

A witness at his trial said Campbell appeared like the "devil" during the fatal beating, licking his mate's blood off his fingers.

Prison staff raiding his cell yesterday found nothing, but Corrections acting lower North Island regional commissioner Paul Tomlinson said the department did not deny the photo depicted Campbell.

A cellphone was found in his possession last year, and the Facebook page was being investigated, Tomlinson confirmed.

Campbell has served a life sentence for the murder of Clinton Maru Gray Campbell, 18, and was eligible for parole in 2006 but remains in prison as reports show he has not yet satisfied release requirements.

Despite praise for his rehabilitative efforts, he has been repeatedly refused release. His main obstacle was his cannabis-user status, which he last year challenged unsuccessfully in the High Court.

The Facebook page in question says the user is from Napier, living in Wellington, and was created last May with an apparent alias and URL address containing a variation of Campbell's name.

Posts include complaints about having to change the Facebook screen identity in February due to "too much heat from the haters" in Napier, and later: "im insane and dangerous. dont you dare get in my way." The latest Facebook posting was on Tuesday, quoting lyrics from goth metal rocker Glenn Danzig's song Lucifuge.

Tomlinson said social networking sites required no verification of a person's identity and, as a result, Corrections was aware of some instances in which a Facebook page was set up on behalf of a prisoner or through Sim cards carried in and out of prison.

"The department manages New Zealand's most dangerous and anti-social individuals, and the use of cellphone communication by prisoners represents a very serious risk to public safety.

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"We place considerable emphasis on preventing cellphones and other forms of contraband from entering prisons, apprehending those who attempt to smuggle it in, and stamping out opportunities for organised crime."

As of June last year, Corrections had spent about $13 million on nationwide cellphone jamming technology.

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said the technology was regularly tested, and detecting contraband was a focus of continued upgrades.

"Corrections continues to do everything it can to stay one step ahead of prisoners, and as a result prisons are safer and more secure than ever."

Labour Corrections spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern labelled the jamming technology a failure.

Corrections worked hard to prevent contraband getting into prisons, but it was concerning if prisoners with cellphones were able to contact victims or gang affiliates, she said.

- The Dominion Post

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