Prisoner swap brings identity wristband review

By Joanne Carroll

There have been two cases of prisoners swapping wrist bands and pretending to be someone else. Photo / Thinkstock
There have been two cases of prisoners swapping wrist bands and pretending to be someone else. Photo / Thinkstock

Police are reviewing the use of identity wrist bands by defendants after two cases of prisoners swapping the bands before they appeared in court.

A 25-year-old man appeared in the Auckland District Court and pretended to be another prisoner after exchanging the police-issued identity wrist bands. The attempt to get bail failed when the ruse was discovered.

The wrist bands are used in the Auckland and Manukau District Courts because of the large number of defendants held in custody.

Graham Stewart Hay, unemployed, 25, of Onehunga, has been charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice by appearing under another person's name by swapping bands on November 3.

On the same day he allegedly used a firearm in an aggravated robbery, took two vehicles and robbed a man of $60 in West Auckland. He is also charged with taking a vehicle, driving while forbidden and taking police on a car chase on November 12.

He appeared in court on Tuesday and has been remanded in custody to reappear in the Auckland District Court on December 5.

It is the second incident involving prisoners removing and swapping identity bracelets this year.

In August, an 18-year-old went on the run after allegedly bashing another prisoner, stealing his identity bracelet and using it to appear in the Manukau District Court and get bail.

Byson Kanivatoa was to appear in court on 11 counts of burglary, one of assault and two of breaching court conditions.

However, while in police custody he allegedly assaulted another prisoner and put the man's bracelet on his own wrist.

Police spokesman Jon Neilson confirmed a review had been ordered since the incident this month.

Auckland City police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said the incident involving Hay was the first of its kind in the district.

"Aside from one incident in the last week, Auckland City District has not had any issues with prisoners swapping ID bracelets. In the incident I refer to, the swap was detected by police well before the prisoner went to court and he faced an additional charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice," she said.

Auckland City District has had the prisoner ID wrist bands since July this year, with only the one alleged breach.

The Counties Manukau District has used the system for considerably longer.

- Herald on Sunday

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