21 Oct 2009

Sacked prison officers reinstated

5:06 pm on 21 October 2009

Two Auckland Prison officers sacked after an inmate was killed in a shower block have been given interim reinstatement by the Employment Relations Authority.

Tue Faavae, who was imprisoned for aggravated robbery, was found dead in a shower block in B Block in March this year.

Five inmates are before the courts accused of his murder, with a sixth prisoner charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Prison officers Manuilani Tielu and William Tupou were on duty at the time of Faavae's death.

An investigation by the Department of Corrections found they had failed to notice that Faavae was not in his cell and other prisoners were not where they should have been. The department sacked the officers for serious misconduct.

The men have taken their case to the Employment Relations Authority. Documents show their lawyer told the authority that Corrections failed to act on its knowledge that a hit was being planned by inmates in Faavae's block.

The authority ruled Mr Tielu and Mr Tupou should be reinstated while the substantive matters in the case are determined.

The lawyer representing the Faavae family wants to find out who knew that a hit had been ordered at the prison and failed to do anything about it.

Olinda Woodroffe says whoever knew about a hit plan failed miserably in their job.

A union representing prison officers says Corrections should have put more staff on duty when it found out the hit had been ordered.

Corrections Association national president Beven Hanlon says if the department had put more staff on because of the risk Faavae's death could have been avoided.