Jail sentence extended after assault

BELINDA FEEK
Last updated 08:29 13/11/2012

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Rapist to pay for attack on Corrections officer, reports Belinda Feek .

A convicted rapist who injured two prison officers with iron bars will spend the next 16 years in prison, with no chance of parole under three-strike legislation.

Logan Ashley Pearce, 24, received a first-strike warning last year on his conviction for rape and sexual violation. He was sentenced to 7 years in prison.

However, about 8.30pm on July 30, Pearce and another inmate, housed in separate cells in Waikeria Prison, broke through their cell windows and made for the prison's guard room.

Pearce and his fellow prisoner then assaulted a male guard while demanding his car keys. They beat him unconscious when he refused to hand them over.

The pair then took captive a female guard, whom they held for about 15 minutes before surrendering.

The female guard - who still remains in her job - suffered cuts to her head and hands and extensive bruising.

The male guard also suffered severe bruising and concussion.

In sentencing Pearce to nine years and three months jail on charges of aggravated wounding, aggravated injury, unlawful detaining and intentional damage in Hamilton District Court yesterday, Judge Merelina Burnett said a pre-sentence report did not show any mitigating features.

Three strikes legislation meant he must serve his entire sentence cumulatively, she said. He will serve close to 17 years before being eligible for parole.

Prison staff had called for bars to be placed on cell windows in the wake of Pearce's attack, but in a statement yesterday Terry Buffery, Corrections central regional manager said there "had been no changes to the infrastructure of the unit as a result of this incident".

The two guards were still full-time employees.

"Corrections welcomes the sentencing of this prisoner. It sends a strong message that violence against Corrections officers will not be tolerated," Mr Buffery said.

"We take the issue of violence in prisons extremely seriously and our priority is staff safety. The department will not tolerate prisoners using violence against staff or other prisoners."

Mr Buffery said prison guards now had access to pepper spray since this incident.

The brother in-law of the injured female guard, New Zealand First Tauranga candidate Brendan Horan, was also pleased with the sentence.

"She's obviously still affected by the incident because what human being wouldn't be. I guess like anybody, she's trying to put it behind her."

Corrections Association national president Beven Hanlon had spoken to the female victim and she was "over the moon" with Pearce's sentence.

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"She had quite a traumatic time of it, they were quite viciously attacked so it will help give some closure." However, although guards had access to spray, guards had to file a risk management report before they got their hands on it.

"We walk amongst them with just our uniforms and 120 years [worth] of good verbal skills, but it's no [safer]," Mr Hanlon said.

- Waikato

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