29 Jul 2011

Former prison guard sentenced for cannabis offences

8:54 pm on 29 July 2011

A former Rimutaka Prison unit manager says an inmate coerced him into growing cannabis, at a time when he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Jeffrey Reid, who formerly managed a high-security unit at the prison, appeared in the Wellington District Court and was sentenced to 12 months home detention for drug offending.

Reid had pleaded guilty in May to being part of a conspiracy to deal cannabis and cultivating the drug.

His offending was discovered when inmates' phone calls were intercepted, revealing a prison guard was helping them grow cannabis on a commercial scale and supply it in the prison.

Reid's lawyer told the Court a psychiatrist had assessed his client as more likely to yield to coercion because of health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, caused by his exposure to hangings in the prison and an assault by an inmate in 1999.

But Department of Corrections chief executive, Ray Smith, says Reid was an experienced officer, who knew how to handle difficult situations.

He says people who join the Department of Corrections know they are going to need to deal with difficult, dangerous and manipulative individuals.

Mr Smith says the department provides training and encourages staff, if they are worried about prisoners applying pressure on them, to come forward so they can be helped.

He says other prison officers feel let down by Reid's offending.

Reid has been ordered not to use alcohol or drugs, or enter licensed premises during his home detention sentence.