By LOUISA CLEAVE
A female former prison guard who was sacked and charged over a relationship with an inmate is suing the Corrections Department.
The former Paremoremo Prison officer has taken a personal grievance case against the department after admitting two charges of introducing contraband into a prison. The 46-year-old woman said she regretted her involvement with convicted armed robber Nigel Tana, a 38-year-old Black Power associate.
Tana was sentenced to 10 years' jail in 1999 for his part in a Northland home invasion where the owners were tied up at gunpoint and robbed.
The woman described the relationship as an "infatuation" which began with Tana making comments and flirting when she went to work in his unit in early 2002.
She started writing to him a few months later and over a 14-month period penned 180 letters and sent him more than $1000 cash to spend on items such as cigarettes and biscuits.
The small amounts of cash sent with the letters would be taken and deposited in his prison account.
They never had any sexual contact inside the prison, she said.
"It was more of an infatuation, not like any big love or anything. I had other [romantic] relationships going on in the outside world."
The woman said she ended the relationship in June or July after hearing "he had been talking too much about us".
She was confronted by management after the letters were found in Tana's cell.
"I did something knowing what the consequences could be and I put my hand up [when caught]," she said.
"In hindsight it was a really bad mistake."
She said her case was not connected to another female guard facing a contraband charge involving a cellphone, but they had been linked by prison management and the department.
The police had questioned her repeatedly about the other female guard, who is alleged to have been in a relationship with a Mongrel Mob gang member inmate.
"I was quite willing to take the consequences for what I did, if it had been left at that," the woman said.
She denies providing information about other guards or smuggling anything into prison.
Tana never pressured her to bring him anything, she said.
"He wasn't silly enough to ask me to do anything like that."By Louisa Cleave Email Louisa