A former speedway promoter defrauded by disgraced real estate Aaron Drever for $100,000 understands a jail yard attack on his former friend was payback by a gang member for “narking” on another inmate.
”He cons everybody and he’s got caught out,” Bill Buckley told the Herald.
”Obviously he hasn’t pulled his head in. He’s probably narking on somebody in prison to try to get his foot up and he’s been caught out. It’s all part of learning.”
In a letter to his legal team penned the day after he was assaulted, Drever described the attack and the extent of his injuries.
He said the attack happened at 10.30am in the prison kitchen.
”I was attacked in the kitchen by an inmate who used a steel grate hook to slash my face open across my nose, exposing and damaging my nasal cavity.”
Drever wrote that he was initially taken to the Bay of Islands Hospital before being referred to Whangarei Base Hospital to see an ear, nose and throat specialist. Medical experts took photos of his injuries and carried out a CT scan.
”The person who attacked me had previously attacked another inmate in the kitchen approximately two weeks earlier,” Drever wrote.
He added that a senior Corrections staff member advised him that the attacker “should not have been working in the kitchen”.
Describing his injuries, Drever wrote that his cheek bone was swollen and he had suffered black eyes.
He’d been advised “it’s likely the damage to my face is permanent”.
Buckley was best friends with Drever’s father Carl and promised his dying mate he’d look after Drever after Carl died in 2017.
So when Drever’s Grocer’s Market business collapsed into liquidation, Buckley offered him a job.
But within weeks of taking up a position dealing with marketing and advertising in 2019, Drever began forging fake invoices for Buckley to sign off and would soon siphon more than $100,000 from Buckley’s speedway companies in a series of fraudulent transactions.
He was on bail at the time and facing unrelated fraud charges for obtaining more than $500,000 from Avondale Bowling Club in a cunning property ruse.
Drever, 39, was jailed for more than two years in August after pleading guilty to a raft of dishonesty charges.
He has since appealed his sentence, arguing he should have been granted home detention, in part because of his previous good character.
It has now emerged that Drever was attacked earlier this month at Ngawha Prison in Northland, with claims another inmate struck Drever in the face with a metal grille hook, slashing his face and exposing his nasal cavity, in the prison kitchen.
Buckley, who only returned from the United States today, said he was alerted to the attack this morning by a mutual friend.
”I was told he’s in hospital and been beaten up in Northland Prison. According to [the friend] he was in there and got knocked around.”
Buckley said he’d been told the attack was payback by a gang member.
While Buckley felt conflicted hearing his old friend had been badly injured, he was not surprised Drever had been assaulted behind bars.
”He thinks he can con his way in prison. I heard he narked on a guy to get himself up in the kitchen and one of the gang members heard about it.
“He’s just got to learn. He let me down bloody terribly.”
Although Corrections says the attack took place on November 16, both Buckley and the Herald had been told about five weeks ago that Drever had been assaulted - firstly at Mt Eden Prison, then at Northland after allegedly being transferred north for safety reasons.
The Herald put questions about these matters to Corrections on November 7.
In a response the following day, the Corrections media team said:
”We have checked with both prisons and have no information to suggest your information [sic] correct. We have no records of any assaults or complaints of assault on this person.
”We take our duty of care seriously and take reports of assault extremely seriously. If someone in prison has any concerns for their safety, we strongly urge them to talk to staff.
”There are also multiple avenues of complaint available to people in custody, including the internal complaints system, an 0800 number for contacting the independent Corrections Inspectorate, and the Ombudsman. These channels are free for any prisoner to contact, with contact details readily available.
”There are now questions about Corrections’ handling of Drever and why he able to be attacked.
Buckley said he thought Drever’s prison sentence was “pretty light”.
”They’ve given him a wet bus ticket and tap on the sleeve,” he said.
Before being jailed, Drever was involved in a fast-food business which allegedly owed money to some of its staff.
One of those employees told the Herald news of Drever’s assault was “karma”.
”What goes around comes around. He deserves everything he gets.
”He must have provoked the guy. He doesn’t understand these are games you don’t play on the inside compared to the outside.
”I think it’s just the best thing since sliced bread.”
David Pattinson, prison pirector, Northland Region Corrections Facility, confirmed the attack was carried out by another inmate in the prison kitchen.
Corrections staff provided first aid before Drever was taken to hospital for further observation. He returned to the prison later the same day and staff are continuing to monitor him.
“Staff responded quickly to separate the prisoners and move the alleged perpetrator out of the kitchen,” said Pattison.
“Following the assault the alleged perpetrator was transferred to the management unit and placed on directed segregation. He has been charged with misconduct and is scheduled to be transferred to another prison.”
Pattison also clarified that the alleged attacker was employed in the kitchen and working at the time of the incident.
Police had been notified.