22 Jul 2015

Three investigations into inmate death

3:01 pm on 22 July 2015

Three separate investigations are being conducted into the death of a prisoner in Northland in June.

Image from Nick Evans Facebook page.

Photo: Facebook

Labour MP Kelvin Davis has claimed in Parliament a man referred to as Prisoner Evans died after being dropped from a balcony at Mt Eden Prison.

The New Zealand Herald has named the dead man as Nick Evans.

A Facebook RIP Nick Evans page carries photos and tributes including a link to an obituary notice in the Herald. The page also links to the recent stories of violence at Mt Eden Prison, run by the private operator Serco.

The Labour Party is calling for a full inquiry into prisoner violence at the remand prison, saying inmates are taking part in organised fights and being thrown off balconies by other prisoners in a practice known as dropping.

In Parliament yesterday Mr Davis said "Prisoner Evans" was dropped from a balcony at Mt Eden before his transfer to a Northland jail.

He said the man was taken to Ngawha Prison before being sent to Whangarei Hospital, where he died of a ruptured lung

Whangarei Hospital has confirmed a man was admitted on 30 May and died on 18 June.

The Corrections Department has confirmed a prisoner died in hospital in Northland in June.

In a statement, Northern Regional Commissioner Jeanette Burns said the prisoner underwent a standard health check on arrival at Northland Region Corrections Facility (Ngawha), which did not reveal any concerns.

"However, he became seriously unwell soon after and was immediately transferred to hospital where, unfortunately, he has died."

An inquest is being conducted into the man's death, although no date has been set for that.

The Chief Inspector of Corrections is also carrying out an investigation, and there will be a review of the clinical assessment the prisoner received when he arrived at Ngawha Prison.

Serco director of operations Scott McNairn said he had never heard of any incidents like that at the prison.

"No one has reported anything like that to us or the department, or anyone else I am aware of," he told Morning Report

Mr McNairn said if it was occurring frequently, he would expect to see more injuries and hospital treatment, and that was not happening.

Prison assault figures discussed

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga told Parliament assaults were not only an issue at Mt Eden Prison but right across the sector.

He said prisons were dealing with some of the most violent and difficult people in society.

Mr Lotu-liga said in the past financial year there were five serious prisoner-on-prisoner assaults at Mt Eden, five at Christchurch Mens, six at Springhill and seven at Rimutaka.

He said there was one prisoner-on-staff assault at Mt Eden, compared to Waikeria Prison which had three.