Serial killer Hayden Tyrone Poulter has died in prison less than a month after he was recalled for breaching his parole conditions.

Poulter, 56, was found dead in his cell at Whanganui Prison on Saturday, a source told the Herald.

He had been released on parole in June but the Herald has learned he was recalled to prison on August 27.

Just 27 days later he was dead.

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Hayden Poulter. Photograph supplied by NZ Police
Hayden Poulter. Photograph supplied by NZ Police

Whanganui Prison Director Reti Pearse could not confirm specifics about the dead inmate.

"A prisoner died in custody at Whanganui Prison over the weekend," Pearse said.

"He was found by staff at unlock on Saturday morning.

"Staff provided immediate assistance, but the prisoner was unable to be revived."

The death has been referred to the Coroner.

Pearse said the independent Corrections Inspectorate will also carry out a review.

"Police have notified the prisoner's next of kin.

"Support is being provided to staff and prisoners.

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"We are unable to provide further comment while the matter is subject to investigation."

Poulter was serving life sentences for three separate murders.

Twenty-two years ago Poulter bludgeoned to death a woman who worked as a prostitute on Auckland's Karangahape Rd.

He then wrote a confession letter to the Herald, claiming he would kill again.

A week later, the former demolition worker killed a massage parlour worker, her boss,
and tried to kill another worker.

Poulter was sentenced to life in jail for the 1997 killings.

He was denied parole in 2016 and 2017.

But after a hearing in May this year the board agreed to release Poulter.

Natacha Hogan in a photograph supplied by family. She was murdered by Hayden Poulter.
Natacha Hogan in a photograph supplied by family. She was murdered by Hayden Poulter.

He was subject to a number of strict parole conditions including not entering Auckland.

He was also subject to GPS monitoring and banned from using drugs or alcohol for the rest of his life.

Further, the board prohibited Poulter from speaking to any media organisations.

READ THE FULL PAROLE DECISION HERE

It is understood he breached at least one of those conditions, and the board granted his recall to prison in late August.

After his hearing in May, Parole Board panel convenor Judge Eddie Paul said Poulter had completed "all intensive rehabilitation programmes to address the drivers of his offending" - in particular drug and adult sex offender programmes.

He had also participated in "significant one-to-one counselling" between 1998 and 2002.

When the board saw Poulter last year he had completed five guided releases into the community and was applying for further opportunities for release to work outside the prison.

Natacha Hogan in a photograph supplied by family. She was murdered by Hayden Poulter.
Natacha Hogan in a photograph supplied by family. She was murdered by Hayden Poulter.

"There was planning under way in terms of his release proposal and future relationships," said the board's decision.

Since his last hearing, Poulter had progressed to a prison self-care unit.

"He has continued to apply for release to work but at this stage none has been offered to him," said Judge Paul.

"He does, however, point to the almost three years he spent on release to work with private contractors, while constructing various buildings for the prison.

"That was not in a custodial setting, so very much a testing environment."

Judge Paul said Poulter had 20 guided releases.

"All advice we received is that has gone well," he said.

"Those releases have been to a range of venues and only positive reports have been returned."

A psychologist's report from April said Poulter had "demonstrated flexibility of thought".

"He was assessed then as a moderate risk of general offending and moderate to low sexual offending," said Judge Paul.

"His release proposal to a rural address with family members where work was provided was considered appropriate after assessment by the report writer."

The board spoke "at length" with Poulter at his recent hearing and canvassed his guided releases, work history and time in prison.

"Accordingly, after consideration of all the material presented we are satisfied that Mr Poulter has sufficiently reduced his risk, that he can be released on parole subject to conditions, which are extensive, and will support his release into the community," said Judge Paul.

All but one of Poulter's special conditions was ordered to be in place for five years.

The condition that he not consume drugs or alcohol was to remain in place for the rest of his life.

Judge Paul said that was due to the "specific link" between drugs and alcohol and Poulter's offending.

"Mr Poulter has had explained to him the consequences of that drug and alcohol condition - that he can be tested and monitored by Corrections at any time," said Judge Paul.

He said there would also be "significant limitations on his movement".

Poulter was also to see the board again after five months to monitor his progress.

WHERE TO GET HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

OR IF YOU NEED TO TALK TO SOMEONE ELSE:

LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 or 09 5222 999 within Auckland (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633 ,free text 234 or email