A prisoner that all but killed a fellow inmate in the Hawke's Bay Prison has been found guilty this afternoon.

The jury at the High Court in Napier have just returned their verdict after four and a half hours of deliberations.

Paka Junior Leota, 34, had pleaded not guilty to one charge of injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm before Justice Karen Clark in the High Court at Napier on Monday morning.

The Crown alleged Leota beat Jason James Poi to near-death with fellow inmate Joseph Sam Samoa on March 21 2015 after he failed to deliver on an arrangement to bring contraband into jail.


Samoa, a convicted murderer and prison lifer, had previously pleaded guilty to the charge.

Poi was described as a "pretty green" prisoner at the time of the beating, having served just three months of a three year sentence.

He was involved in plans to smuggle drugs and tobacco into prison whereby Leota and Samoa's partners in Auckland couriered the contraband to Napier for Poi's partner and her friend to bring to the prison on a family visiting day.

The contraband never made it to the prison however, and was instead flung out a car window after the women saw cars being searched as they were approaching the prison.

Crown prosecutor Steve Manning had said Leota had heard of this and, in either "anger or retaliation", beat Poi to near-death in his own cell the same day.

Poi sustained serious head injuries during the attack. He was left lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood and hasn't been able to walk, talk or do anything for himself since the incident.

During the trial the court heard from Poi's partner who received a call just after 5pm that day telling her Jason had been taken to the hospital and was in the intensive care unit.

She said he was in a coma for 60 days and when asked by Manning if he resembled anything like the Jason she once knew, she said "No."

Leota will be sentenced at a later date.

- Hawke's Bay Today