24 May 2010

Funeral held for slain prison officer

10:12 pm on 24 May 2010

The funeral for the first prison officer to be killed on duty in New Zealand has been held.

Jason Palmer, 33, was attacked at Spring Hill Prison in north Waikato on 15 May and died in hospital the following day.

About 200 mourners, including more than 100 Department of Corrections officers, farewelled the father-of-two at a funeral at the Pukekohe Town Hall on Monday.

Mr Palmer was a former United States Marine and his casket was brought into the hall draped in the US and New Zealand flags.

Mr Palmer's brother, George Palmer, said some people may not recover from the pain the death has brought, while his uncle-in-law Kevin Grose said no one should lose their life carrying out their job.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins, Department of Corrections chief executive Barry Matthews and the prison manager attended the service.

Ms Collins paid tribute to Mr Palmer, telling his family that the nation shares in their grief.

"Today it is with heavy hearts that we bid farewell to Jason, a man who gave so much to his family, his friends and his colleagues and to the people of New Zealand.

"We give thanks for the precious time we had Jason here with us. He will be deeply missed by us all."

The minister said Mr Palmer was one of the special few who selflessly put himself in harm's way so others could be safe.

Mr Matthews says four investigations are under way into the death.

It is understood Mr Palmer's will be taken back to the US by his family.