An inmate who punched an officer in the face at the Hawke's Bay Prison in January is also alleged to have been the man behind the wheel of a stolen WorkSafe ute rampage in March.

Raymond Punger Watson, 21, did not appear in the Hastings District Council yesterday morning but entered a guilty plea via defence counsel Richard Stone to one charge of assaulting a prison officer.

Not guilty pleas were simultaneously entered to charges relating to the burglary incident in late March where a WorkSafe ute was stolen from a Hastings property and the subject of several police pursuits before it was spiked.

According to the summary of facts obtained by Hawke's Bay Today, Watson was serving a sentence for an unrelated matter at the Hawke's Bay Prison on January 8 when a Corrections officer observed broken glass at his cell and went to investigate.


Watson failed to co-operate with several staff who attended his cell and then "swung a punch" that struck one of the officers in the face, knocking him down.

In explanation Watson said "they came at me first" and that it was "self defence".

The officer suffered some bruises and received medical treatment following the attack.

Yesterday, Watson entered not guilty pleas to charges of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, aggravated failing to stop, reckless driving, two counts of burglary and two counts of failing to stop and ascertain injury.

The charges allege Watson stole a WorkSafe ute from a Hastings address in March and, when instructed to stop by police the next day, failed to do so.

Police also reported the Worksafe ute had crashed into the back of a stationary vehicle at a Hastings intersection, driven through a large amount of wet concrete and struck a car head-on at another intersection in Flaxmere before being spiked while driving along Flaxmere Avenue.

The offender, who ran from the scene, was arrested a short time later and a search of the car recovered stolen items from another burglary that had happened in Havelock North during the day.

The maximum penalty for assaulting a prison officer is six months' imprisonment or a $4000 fine.

Watson is set to appear again in June.