Prisoner admits attacking Crown lawyer

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A man with a history of violent offending has admitted assaulting a senior Crown lawyer after escaping from security escorts while being led to courtroom cells.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, threw a punch at prosecutor Richard Marchant during a pre-trial hearing in the Auckland District Court on April 1.

As the man was walked to the cells by security contractors working for the Department of Corrections, he lunged at Mr Marchant and tried to hit him.

The punch barely connected and the man was restrained and taken away.

"The judge and the registrar immediately left the courtroom and remained in a secure locked place until the defendant had been removed from the court," a Ministry of Justice spokesman said.

Back in the same court today, the man, who is aged in his early 30s, admitted a charge of assaulting Mr Marchant with intent to injure him.

He was remanded in custody at Auckland Prison until sentencing in June.

The ministry spokesman said such incidents were treated seriously and this one had been reviewed by the ministry's court security team, police and corrections.

"We will be undertaking further security awareness and training for court staff."

Corrections northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns said an "operational review" was underway.

"Early indications are that the incident was well managed by security officers and Court staff," she said.

"Prisoners can be volatile and unpredictable and many have long histories of antisocial behaviour and resort to violence with little warning.

"The prisoner was being escorted by First Security staff contracted to the department at the time of this incident. When the prisoner appeared in court again today corrections supported First Security with additional prison security."

The man is already serving a lengthy sentence for armed robbery.

- APNZ

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