Dangerous liaisons in jail revealed
Leaked report reveals love triangle involving inmate, a female staffer and a manager.
The Corrections Chief Inspector has been called in to review a cover-up at Rimutaka Prison after a secret report revealing inappropriate relationships a female staffer was having with both a convicted murderer and a manager.
The staffer gave a note to the inmate written on a pink piece of paper cut into the shape of a heart.
The details are contained in a leaked report, which Corrections had refused to release under the Official Information Act.
The prisoner alleges he lost inhouse employment after witnessing the staffer being fondled by a manager at the prison.
The inmate’s lawyer, Michael Bott, has called for a ministerial inquiry into the ‘‘deliberate and concerted attempt’’ by senior Corrections officials to cover up corrupt behaviour by its staff.
Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis refused an interview.
In a four-line statement, he confirmed the Corrections Chief Inspector would review the matter.
The revelations come as misconduct and a strained prison system are exposed. Elite guards at Christchurch Men’s Prison were caught spying on inmates using unauthorised listening devices, and at least 30 guards failed to show up to work at Auckland’s Paremoremo prison last weekend due to violent attacks from inmates.
The leaked report, prepared by Correction’s Integrity Support Team and viewed by the Sunday
Star-Times this week, is the latest development in an untidy saga at Rimutaka Prison in Upper Hutt.
An initial report commissioned by Corrections vindicated staff and blamed the inmate for ‘‘overfamiliarisation’’.
But the subsequent leaked report stated the inmate was a credible witness and described the staffer as ‘‘inconsistent and evasive’’.
The relationship with the inmate began in February 2016, when he was employed as a cleaner in the ‘‘blue building’’, housing administration staff.
The prisoner said he was encouraged to take lengthy coffee breaks, where the woman would share stories of her children, ex-husband, and affairs with other staffers.
He told investigators he felt ‘‘threatened and manipulated’’.
‘‘I felt I was expected to go and have coffee with her every day.’’
After Christmas, he saw the manager and the woman kissing at the administration building, with the manager’s hand in the woman’s crotch, he said.
Everything will be okay in the end and if it’s not okay it’s not the end. Note written on love-heart
In February 2017, an increasingly tense situation boiled over and the inmate threatened to expose the woman.
In a panic, both approached various prison staffers. The prisoner lost his job and walking privileges that day.
The first report did not address the alleged relationship between the two staffers, but the second report is laced with references to the liaison.
A former flatmate of the woman’s told investigators the prison staffer and the manager had a relationship outside of work.
The staffer told investigators the manager was ‘‘coming on to her’’.
Investigators said she had provided the prisoner with unauthorised items. That was a criminal offence, but this was up to a court to rule on. The items – two tubes of paint and velour material – were not contraband, but this did not diminish or mitigate her behaviour.
The woman, who remains employed at the prison, was sanctioned, but Corrections would not say how. Police have not laid charges against her.
The manager has since moved to a new role which Corrections would not disclose.
Bott, who said the prisoner was vindicated by the report, believed the way the matter had been dealt with by Corrections was corrupt. On Friday afternoon, after the
Sunday Star-Times put questions to Corrections, the department provided a five-page summary of the lengthy report.
Bott had requested the report eight months earlier, and had since complained to the Ombudsman.
Corrections National Commissioner Rachel Leota declined an interview. She supported the decision to end the prisoner’s employment ‘‘due to the safety and security risk presented by his overfamiliarity with staff’’.
Rimutaka Prison is the latest headache for Corrections, following violence at Auckland Prison at Paremoremo and revelations of guard spying at Christchurch Men’s Prison.