Dan­ger­ous li­aisons in jail re­vealed

Leaked re­port re­veals love tri­an­gle in­volv­ing in­mate, a fe­male staffer and a man­ager.

Sunday Star-Times - - FRONT PAGE - Thomas Manch re­ports.

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’’.

STUFF

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.

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