Ex-prison officer on trial over drugs in jail

A former prison officer is on trial, accused of trying to supply inmates with cannabis and methamphetamine.

The trial of Te Awamutu 43-year-old Kokiri Kihirini Junior Ronaki started in the Hamilton District Court yesterday after a police sting at Waikeria Prison in July last year.

He faces charges of possession of cannabis and methamphetamine for supply and bringing a glass pipe into a prison.

Defence counsel Paul Mabey, QC, said there was no dispute over his client's possession of the drug but he did not intend to supply them to inmates in the prison's Totara Unit, where he worked.

On July 13, Ronaki turned up for his shift at 5.30am but unknown to him, prison management, a drug dog and a Te Awamutu detective awaited.

As he arrived he was ushered into the unit's visitor room by the prison's residential manager.

When he was informed of the search that was about to take place he tried to leave the room and was particularly intent on taking his rucksack with him.

Detective Mark Smith of Te Awamutu police took charge of the situation and searched Ronaki and his bag, in which they found a thermos coffee cup.

Inside it was 3.4 grams of cannabis, 1.29g of methamphetamine – commonly known as P – and a glass pipe with some other paraphernalia.

Mr Smith told the court Ronaki quickly disassociated himself from the cup and said it was not his.

While giving evidence as a witness, the manager of the unit told the court Ronaki looked at him "directly in the face" and summarised the situation quite succinctly.

"I'm in the shit."

Crown prosecutor Philip Crayton said police found a further 2.3g of cannabis and 0.15g of P at Ronaki's home, as well as a bank bag containing $885.

The Crown also alleged police found two letters from inmates at the property and a Vodafone bill for a cellphone number which corresponded with one written on a scrap of paper inside a cell.

Yesterday, the jury also heard 21 phone calls from various Waikeria inmates.

Mr Crayton said words like "enemy", "shoes", "patches" and "Barry White" were clearly coded references to drugs.

Waikato Times