Saturday, January 28, 2023
HomeNew ZealandPrison riot started after inmates were told to clean up graffiti

Prison riot started after inmates were told to clean up graffiti

- Advertisement -

By Ric Stevens, Open Justice multimedia journalist of NZ Herald

Six teenage prisoners are on the roof of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison, after a stand off with staff

Teenage prisoners on the roof of Hawkes Bay Regional Prison during a stand off with staff in August. File photo.
Photo: RNZ / Tom Kitchin

A riot in the High Security Youth Unit of Hawke’s Bay Prison began after officers told inmates to clean graffiti off the walls before being allowed outside for exercise time.

Teenage inmates broke out of the unit and climbed on to the roof during the 24-hour protest in August, throwing debris off the building and causing extensive damage, before being talked down by negotiators.

No one was seriously hurt during the riot, but it has emerged that the inmates threw 34 chisels at staff, among other items, and one object struck a 71-year-old Corrections officer in the back of the neck.

More details of the riot have been made public in court documents after one of six young men charged over the incident pleaded guilty to rioting, intentional damage and assault in the Hastings District Court on Tuesday.

Noah Johnson, 18, appeared via audio-visual link from prison and was remanded by Judge Bridget Mackintosh to appear again in the Tauranga District Court on 24 November.

A summary of facts said that Johnson and others were in a communal area of the unit’s Wing 2 about 1pm on 1 August.

Officers told them to clean graffiti off the unit’s walls. They were told that once this task was completed, they would be allowed to go outside for exercise time.

The inmates became aggressive and shouted obscenities at the guards, wanting to go outside immediately.

They began to cause damage to door fittings and throw items at the control room, housing the officers, while yelling at others in the neighbouring Wing 1 to get involved.

Corrections officers entered Wing 2 to try to calm the situation but were pushed and shoved back, making the decision to evacuate all staff “for safety”.

Johnson and others then kicked out a perspex window to get to an exterior yard, and used an air conditioning unit to climb on to the roof.

They then broke into Wing 1 through a large mesh panel in the ceiling, allowing inmates there to join them.

Over the next 24 hours, they refused to come down from the roof, but broke into a number of rooms in both wings, causing extensive damage and daubing them with graffiti.

They took various objects from rooms to use as weapons and projectiles, including the chisels, a trolley, food, electrical equipment, wood, metal pipes, and door handles.

These objects landed close to Corrections officers and sometimes struck their shields.

The rioters also threw objects at prison vehicles moving around the prison.

The High Security Youth Unit remains unusable three months after the riot.

A Corrections spokesperson said assessments were continuing into whether it would be reopened.

“At this stage, the exact cost and timeframe of any repairs is yet to be determined.”

A number of other alleged rioters are still being dealt with by the courts.

This story originally appeared in the [ New Zealand Herald]

Story Credit:

- Advertisment -

Most Popular