Tobacco smuggled into jail in undies

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 15/07/2014
Raymond Heperi Harris
Fairfaz NZ
SMUGGLER: Raymond Heperi Harris, 60, resigned from his job at Christchurch Men's Prison in May last year after he was confronted with allegations of corruption.

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A long-serving Corrections officer has admitted smuggling tobacco into prison in his underwear in exchange for thousands of dollars.

Raymond Heperi Harris, 60, resigned from his job at Christchurch Men's Prison in May last year after he was confronted with allegations of corruption.

He initially denied taking tobacco into the prison with the intention of giving it to an inmate.

However, at the Christchurch District Court yesterday the Parklands resident pleaded guilty to the offending - a breach of the Corrections Act.

Judge Jane Farish said she would consider a sentence of home or community detention for Harris, who was released on bail to reappear in court on September 10.

According to the police summary of facts, the offending began after Harris struck up a relationship with an inmate named Paul Maker. The Press understands Maker has been in and out of prison for more than a decade. He has committed offences including assault and burglary.

On at least three occasions, Harris escorted Maker on parole visits to his partner's parents house from June to September in 2012, the summary says.

"[The partner] supplied tobacco to Maker, who would compress the loose tobacco in a work vice [in a garage at the property] for easier concealment."

Harris then hid the tobacco in his underwear and gave it to Maker once they were back inside prison. On several other occasions Harris collected packets of tobacco from Maker's partner's letterbox and also smuggled them into prison.

In total, he was paid up to $3000 by Maker for his efforts, the summary says.

In June last year The Press reported that Harris had resigned from his job amid allegations of corruption. He had been employed as a Corrections officer since 2001.

The allegations of corruption were the first to be investigated at a Canterbury prison since 2008.

Corrections Association president Bevan Hanlon has previously said corrupt prison officers should be jailed as a deterrent because their actions put the safety of other staff at risk.

Corrections Department figures showed that more than 6000 banned items were seized coming into prisons in the 11 months to May 30, 2012.

Harris declined to comment outside court yesterday.

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- The Press

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