Three inmates at Rolleston Prison in Christchurch have found a novel use for hand sanitiser - they got drunk on it.

Thousands of hand sanitisers were given out to Christchurch residents after the February 22 earthquake to try to stop the spread of infection and disease.

Prison bosses in Canterbury also thought they were doing their inmates a good turn by providing a similar service.

Little did they realise that enterprising prisoners could add sugar-based products, such as Raro fruit drink, to the hand sanitisers to concoct a powerful home brew.


Inmate Tuarea Pahi, 24, got drunk and assaulted a prison officer - an attack he says he doesn't remember, and one that came as a shock to the officer since they had been on friendly terms before then.

This week, Pahi had an extra 70 days added to his jail term after admitting the assault at a district court session heard inside the men's prison.

The court heard how Pahi and two mates were caught "highly intoxicated" on September 4.

Yesterday, Rolleston Prison manager Mike Howson revealed how they managed to get drunk while behind bars.

"Last month, staff noticed three prisoners appeared to be intoxicated," he said.

"It was found that the prisoners had foolishly consumed hand sanitiser."

Alcohol is a contraband item in prison, and any prisoner found making or consuming it faces disciplinary action.

A Department of Corrections spokeswoman said a number of processes were in place in jails to detect contraband, including daily random cell searches.