A Napier District Court jury gasped in apparent horror yesterday as they were told a brief history of a man they'd just taken barely 15 minutes to find guilty of a serious assault in Hawke's Bay Prison.

In a rare motion of reassurance, Judge Tony Adeane told them 46-year-old Warren Charles Te Hei was currently in jail for a machete attack on a woman and had previously served a sentence for attempting to murder a fellow inmate.

The more extensive history is that Te Hei has spent about 20 years in jail since he was sentenced in 1993 to nine years' jail for the aggravated robbery of a Hastings bank.

In 1997 he was sentenced to another 10 years, for attempted murder, after he and brother Sam, who was serving life for the 1987 killing of Napier teenager Colleen Burrows, were involved in an attack in which a fellow inmate resting in his cell with a leg in plaster in maximum-security Paremoremo was stabbed 10 times with a pair of scissors.

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Released on parole in June 2011, he was back in jail in 2014 after a machete attack on a woman in Gisborne, for which he was in July this year sentenced to preventive detention, with a minimum non-parole term of five years.

In a reversal of fortunes he was in 2000 was awarded $55,000 as one of four convicts paid a combined total of $325,000 in compensation for claimed mistreatment in Hawke's Bay Prison.

On Wednesday, a jury of nine women and three men began a trial in which Te Hei denied a charge of wounding a fellow inmate with intent to cause grievous bodily harm at the prison on September 29 last year.

The jury yesterday retired at 2.44pm to consider a verdict but, with about 10 minutes' notice to the Judge, was back in court to deliver the verdict by 3.15pm.\

Te Hei was remanded - in continued custody - to appear in the High Court in Napier on February 1, although sentencing will probably take place at a later date.