Inmate given stern warning for jail attack


A young man's second burst of "explosive violence" pushed him to within a "hair's breadth" of preventive detention when he appeared in the High Court in Napier yesterday for sentence on charges of attacking officers at Hawke's Bay Prison.
But Arai Whakaari Hema, 25, will still have to serve at least four years' jail for the attack late last year, on top of his ongoing 11-year sentence for his only previous criminal blemish - a December 1998 attack on a teenaged Napier girl and the elderly neighbour who came to her rescue.
Justice MacKenzie warned yesterday how he had come to with a "hair's breadth" of acceding to Crown prosecutor Russell Collins' plea for preventive detention, usually a lengthy incarceration with release authorised only by the highest authorities when satisfied of little or no prospect of reoffending.
The sentencing followed events on November 3, when Hema suddenly became enraged and attacked three officers in the engineering area and a kitchen.
He threw a bowl of boiling water into the face of one officer, struck another at least twice on the head with a spade, and repeatedly punched a female officer, while he was armed with a knife he took from a prison kitchen.
He was finally restrained by another inmate, and the officers were taken to hospital.
Defence counsel Tony Snell canvassed the defendant's background, and in a rare move Hema addressed the judge, to express his remorse but also to tell how he had been "forced" to work in the prison joinery instead of undertake studies.
He said that with that and two other jobs he was made to work for 60 hours a week in prison jobs, when regulations meant that no prisoner should have been working more than 40.
Hema had pleaded guilty to one charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and two charges of assault with intent to injure, and was sentenced to six years in jail, with a minimum non-parole term of four.
Both Mr Snell and the judge noted Hema had no history of violent offending outside of the attack, and the matters for which he was initially jailed.

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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