Drug-smuggling puts guard behind bars

By Jamie Morton

Rangipo prison. Photo / Supplied
Rangipo prison. Photo / Supplied

A disgraced guard is on the other side of prison bars after making the "stupid mistake" of smuggling dope to an inmate he befriended.

Former Rangipo Prison guard Manu Stanley Jensen, 45, was yesterday sentenced to 16 months in jail after accepting a bribe to supply cannabis to a prisoner - a crime described by the judge who jailed him as a "very gross breach of trust".

The 45-year-old Turangi man is the second former Corrections officer to be charged with corruption.

Johan Edwin Clarke was last month sentenced to two years and three months' jail for smuggling methamphetamine, cannabis and other items, including a KFC meal, into Rimutaka Prison.

Jensen's lawyer, Ian Farquhar, argued his client's offending was less serious than that of Clarke,

The Rotorua District Court heard how Jensen was going through the "death throes of a marriage break-up" in 2009 when he began discussing personal issues with an inmate.

After Jensen turned down an offer by one prisoner, he was approached by another, who offered money for him to smuggle in cannabis.

Jensen hesitated but accepted the prisoner's offer when asked a second time.

Once the inmate deposited $1418 into Jensen's bank account, he smuggled in 113g of cannabis and some eye drops over two days. It was agreed he would keep the remaining $782.

But when the prisoner was found with the cannabis, an investigation began and Jensen put his earnings in a McDonald's donation box.

He eventually admitted what he had done, was sacked in December 2009 and pleaded guilty to a charge of corruption.

Mr Farquhar said the money was not the primary goal of his offending.

"It really was a mixture of reasons and perhaps most of all, he had built up a rapport with this particular prisoner and felt some empathy towards him, and certainly it made it a lot easier to succumb to the bribe that was put in front of him," he said.

Jensen, who previously had a clean record, has said how he regrets accepting the bribe.

In May, he told the Daily Post in Rotorua: "It was just one stupid mistake that I wish I had never done."

Mr Farquhar told the Herald outside court that Jensen had found it hard to sleep, eat and to keep a positive disposition while coming to terms with his offending.

"Turangi's a small town and he has a lot of work colleagues there.

"To be convicted of something like this, not only is it in a sense drug dealing, it's also something that goes to the heart of the penal system ... and to be coloured and collared with that, it's got to have a devastating impact on him personally."

Judge Phillip Cooper said his offending was very much out of character but the case had "the features of a very gross breach of trust" and involved premeditation and planning.

"The dependence and availability of drugs in prison leads to disorder, violence and an increase in risk to the safety of staff and prisoners ... and your actions have undermined the excellent work done by hard-working committed colleagues."

Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said he was satisfied with the court's decision.

"Corruption, or indeed any illegal behaviour, by staff will not be tolerated," he said.

- NZ Herald

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