Convicted killer Stephen Hudson sues Corrections in bid for prison transfer
It may be several weeks before convicted murderer Stephen Thomas Hudson knows whether he has a chance at getting the prison transfer that he wants.
Hudson, 46, is currently at Rimutaka, but while previously at Whanganui he was refused a transfer to Tongariro Prison off the Desert Rd, in the central North Island.
Hudson was convicted in November 2009 of the murder of Palmerston North man Nicholas Pike, but maintains his innocence. Pike was last seen with Hudson driving on a side road off the Desert Rd.
Hudson is serving a life prison term and that was one of the reasons given for refusing his transfer request. Tongariro had work and rehabilitation opportunities more suited to prisoners nearing parole eligibility, Tongariro prison director Lyn O'Connor had responded to Hudson's complaint.
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Hudson told a judge at the High Court in Wellington on Wednesday that he was classified low medium, and while Tongariro was said to be mostly for low and minimum security prisoners, others with his classification were at the prison.
But Crown lawyer Matt McKillop said prisoner placement was a complex process involving many considerations, and moving one person could mean others had to be moved as a consequence.
Having a long-term prisoner like Hudson at Tongariro might mean others were not able to benefit from its rehabilitation opportunities, he said.
Tongariro was entirely segregated prisoners, and two-thirds were sex offenders.
Hudson obtained an affidavit from another prisoner about conditions at the prison which included a reference to a medical practitioner doing a training course on how to use a chainsaw.
"That does seem a little odd, let's hope he doesn't put that into practise in his surgery," Justice Peter Churchman said.
Hudson was assessed as not being the kind of self-managing prisoner suited to Tongariro, but the judge had some sympathy with Hudson's complaint about that assessment if it was based on Hudson using the formal prison complaint process to resolve disputes. The judge said it could be seen as Hudson properly engaging with the process rather than taking matters into his own hands.
The judge reserved his decision. He knew it was important to Hudson but he had commitments that meant a decision might not be issued for several weeks.
Hudson said Tongariro was closer for three of his five approved visitors. Although he agreed he had not drawn attention to that in his request he said it was not for him to point out factors prison managers had to take into account.
Although Hudson had a low-medium security classification he was considered a high risk of escape. Hudson admitted he had two convictions for escaping and one for attempting to escape, but he said the most recent attempt was in 2003.
Nick Pike was 22 when he disappeared in 2002. His body has not been found.
The disappearance of Pike had been an open file until Hudson was arrested in 2008 after his former girlfriend gave information to police.
She said they had been travelling south on the Desert Road when Hudson stopped and told her to wait by the main road.
He and Pike drove along a side road. Hudson returned alone saying Pike was staying to tend a cannabis plot.
It was the last reported sighting of Pike.
The two men were part of Palmerston North's drug world.
While in prison Hudson has taken court action against the Department of Corrections on other issues, including the confiscation of a women's magazine containing a lavishly illustrated article about breasts, and access to his legal papers which he wanted to share with a person he thought might help get his case reopened.