The person charged with murdering British backpacker Grace Millane is likely to be a marked man behind bars, potentially at serious risk from other prison inmates.

Experts have told the Herald about how at-risk inmates are handled in prison and the range of measures that can be taken to keep them safe.

The man, 26, charged with Millane's murder has been remanded in prison.

The man, on the right, accused of Grace Millane's murder will have security in place while on remand. Photo / Supplied
The man, on the right, accused of Grace Millane's murder will have security in place while on remand. Photo / Supplied

Judge Evangelos Thomas presided over the man's first appearance in a packed Auckland District Court room yesterday, filled with members of the public and both international and national media.


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Millane was last seen alive on December 1, the day before her 22nd birthday.

Grace Millane was last seen alive on December 1 in Auckland. Her body was found in Waitakere Ranges on December 9.
Grace Millane was last seen alive on December 1 in Auckland. Her body was found in Waitakere Ranges on December 9.

Her body was eventually found in bush on the side of Scenic Dr in the Waitakere Ranges on Sunday. The accused 26-year-old man was arrested and charged with her murder, appearing in court yesterday.

In the hearing, Judge Thomas told the defendant: "As you will know the allegations that you face and the background to them have been the source of much media coverage over the last eight or nine days."

He then added that the man, who did not apply for bail, was going to be a "high-risk remand prisoner".

Criminologist Greg Newbold, speaking generally about at-risk inmates in prisons, said an accused would have to be put into segregation.

"You're not in prison for singing too loud in a choir."

A person charged with a high-profile crime that caused public revulsion would land in prison being both unpopular and without any "friends" to support him.


"At the moment he'll be public enemy number one ... but you have to remember he hasn't been tried yet."

The trouble was, most prisoners would have made up their own minds about the accused's guilt and act accordingly.

"They'll likely just target him just for what he stands for, irrespective of whether he's guilty or not."

Newbold said an alleged killer will now be in the sights of a "prison bully" who wanted to make a name for himself.

Most of the prison's segregation units were full and he felt someone like the accused would need to go into "protection in protection".

Department of Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales said safety was top priority.

"Prisons are dynamic environments, and our staff regularly assess and monitor a range of factors that can influence safety or security. Risks are assessed and mitigated on a case by case basis," he said.

"Prisoners who are at risk of harm from others, present a risk to the security of the prison, the safety of others, or themselves may be segregated from other prisoners or groups of prisoners."

He said Corrections was not able to comment on the measures in place for specific prisoners.

Hamilton barrister Roger Laybourn said being classified as a high-risk remand prisoner could mean one of two things; they were at risk to themselves or at risk from others - a marked man.

While it was possible there could be concerns around self-harm, Laybourn said given it was the accused's first appearance there would be little known of his mental health history until he was subjected to in depth reports while on remand.

"My impression was that the judge meant he was at risk of harm from others because normally at the very early stages of proceedings, not a lot is known the background of the accused."

If he was at high risk from harm from others, one of the main reasons would be the high profile nature of the case.

The Grace Millane murder investigation had been beamed around the world with some British media making the trip down under to report on proceedings.

"But if he's a risk prisoner because of harm from others, and there's many reasons why that could occur, one is being a high profile case which exacerbates it.

The Corrections Department had several options available to them in that instance, he said.

"They have their own internal processes because they are responsible to keep all prisoners safe. Segregation is the main one. That can take a number of forms, it can be almost like seclusion.

"That's more extreme or it can just be taking real care [about] who they are exposed to and who they mix with."

He said prisoners went through a classification process, in terms of risk, when they arrived at the prison.