Lawyer faces new charge of prejudicing a prisoner's safety

By Edward Gay

Davina Murray. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Davina Murray. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A criminal defence lawyer accused of supplying cigarettes and a mobile phone to a high-profile rapist and murderer in prison allegedly also told him about another inmate - a sex offender who was later beaten up.

The Crown alleges Davina Valerie Murray, 38, passed the information to Liam Reid inside Mt Eden Prison and she has been charged with prejudicing the safety of the prisoner who was attacked in jail.

Murray, a Maori Party candidate at the 2011 election, is already facing a charge of smuggling a cellphone, cigarettes and a lighter to Reid. She denies both charges and is scheduled to face two defended hearings at the Auckland District Court this month. Each carries a maximum penalty of three months' jail.

Murray, who was admitted to the bar in 2008, appeared in court on Thursday where she asked for an order to force the Department of Corrections and the private prison operator Serco to release documents and CCTV footage of her at the prison.

"The material I require is essential to prepare an adequate defence."

Murray alleged Corrections had been listening to her phone calls with Reid as they discussed his case and that was unlawful. "It is alleged that I was having intimate relations with the inmate concerned."

She said the Crown alleged she is not Reid's lawyer because of the "nature of the calls" but said Reid had been a client for three years. She said the Crown alleged the calls showed "intimacy between her and Reid".

She told the court Corrections staff told her the calls had been recorded by mistake but were then deleted.

"I spoke of the strategy of his appeal. It was alarming to know that the calls were being listened to."

Murray said the High Court had previously found she visited Reid 80 times in nine months but there were "numerous occasions" when she was delivering files. She said she had also helped with producing an induction video for prison staff. "Mr Reid was essential for making the film possible because he was able to engage others in the jail to make it possible."

Crown prosecutor Phil Hamlin said he believed the CCTV footage Murray was after did not exist.

Judge Geoff Rea told Murray to file an affidavit to the court asking for the evidence from Corrections and Serco and they could then respond.

Murray told the court she might not have enough time to review the decision before her hearing if it did not go her way.

"One of the concerns I have with the justice system is that it doesn't allow the defendant to make preparations for their defence."

Judge Rea told her not to make speeches. He said if he wanted to he could order the matter to be heard there and then.

The legal wrangle means Murray's defended hearings are unlikely to go ahead later this month.

Reid is serving a 23-year sentence for raping and killing deaf woman Emma Agnew in Christchurch in 2007, and the rape, attempted murder and robbery of a 21-year-old student in Dunedin nine days later.APNZ

- APNZ

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