Two of a trio of inmates who carried out a brutal revenge attack on a group of prison guards will serve even more time behind bars.
The Herald can also reveal the three guards they attacked, who were charged but later acquitted for their retaliation, have returned to work following several months of investigations by the Department of Corrections.
Prisoners Trent Wellington and Mitai Angell were sentenced yesterday in the Auckland District Court by Judge Nevin Dawson on charges of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, aggravated assault and an additional assault charge for Angell.
Wellington was jailed for six years and given a first strike warning, while Angell was sentenced to five years and nine months while also given his final strike warning.
They were already serving time for violence-related crimes at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, on May 20, 2017, when they attacked their escorts as they were moved to another prison block.
When the handcuffed duo, both in their early 20s, were brought into court yesterday they were accompanied by several guards, while family of the pair waved from the public gallery.
A third prisoner involved in the bloody brawl, Samuel Junior Hutchins, was earlier sentenced to nearly seven years' imprisonment after being found guilty by a jury of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.
The assault on the guards was revenge for an earlier altercation between one of the officers and Killer Beez gang president Joshua Masters, Crown prosecutor Ben Finn has claimed.
Wellington was recruited to the Killer Beez while he was in prison, his lawyer Ish Jayanandan said at an earlier hearing, but was not ordered to carry out the attack by Masters.
After Masters was released from prison last year, the notorious gangster was shot at a Harley Davidson store in Auckland in April and left in a critical condition.
Shocking video shows prisoners fighting with guards
Patched Tribesman member Akustino Tae has been charged with the attempted murder of Masters and has pleaded not guilty.
The pair were friends for many years.
Angell did not have the same gang association as his co-defendants, the court heard yesterday.
However, Judge Dawson said there had been "talk of a hit" in prison being placed on guard Desmond Faafoi as reprisal for the quarrel with Masters.
The judge said it was a gang attack "motivated by a sense of revenge".
Severely wounded in the incident, Faafoi was stabbed several times in the head with a shank - a makeshift knife.
After reviewing the Paremoremo incident, police also charged the three Corrections officers for their retaliation and actions afterwards.
However, in September last year, guards Faafoi, Wiremu Paikea and Viju Devassy walked free after they were all found not guilty by a High Court jury.
An employment investigation was also launched and the group did not return to work for several months as Corrections remained in discussions with their union representatives.
However, in a statement to the Herald, assistant regional commissioner Al Riach said all employment matters are now resolved.
Faafoi, Paikea and Devassy had returned to be active Corrections employees, he said.
Corrections would not comment on whether details of the employment investigation would be made public or if a confidentiality agreement had been signed.
In a victim impact statement, heard yesterday, Faafoi said he continued to feel paranoid and anxious after the attack as he continued to recover.
Angell was also badly injured in the brawl - including a compound dislocation of his ankle.
But the jury found Paikea not guilty of causing grievous bodily harm with reckless disregard after CCTV footage showed him kneeling down over the back of Angell's legs.
Prosecutors alleged Paikea deliberately bent Angell's ankle at a 90-degree angle causing the dislocation.
Faafoi was found not guilty of assault with intent to injure Angell after he was seen on camera kicking the prisoner in the head three times.
Devassy, meanwhile, was found not guilty of wilfully attempting to pervert the course of justice. He was accused of directing a CCTV camera away from the incident.
Video of the fight shows Wellington being wrestled by a Corrections officer near a stairwell, before Hutchins is tackled by Faafoi, who can be seen bleeding heavily from his stab wounds.
Blood is soon smeared and splattered over the walls.
Angell is then wrestled to the ground before a voice from an unknown Corrections officer is recorded on Devassy's body camera yelling: "Des[mond], Des, enough, enough, enough, enough ... camera, camera."
Assaults on guards climbs steadily in recent years
The number of attacks against Corrections officers has increased during a five year period after trending down a decade ago, data released to the Herald under the Official Information Act (OIA) reveals.
During the financial year 2017-18, some 436 guards were attacked by prisoners, 12 of them classed as serious assaults by Corrections.
Some investigations remained open during this period and the severity of the classifications may have since changed, Corrections said.
It was a marked increase from 2013-14 when there were 328 total assaults at New Zealand prison facilities, with six being deemed serious.
The high of 480 total assaults for the past five years was in 2015-16, with 17 being a serious assault.
Ninety one of those attacks occurred at the Mount Eden Corrections Facility alone.
There were also 22 guards who were victims of serious assaults by prisoners in the 2016-17 financial year. The most (eight) came at Auckland Prison - the same prison where Faafoi, Paikea and Devassy were attacked in 2017.
But while the number of serious assaults against guards appears to be steadily climbing it is still a significant way off the 21st century high of violence in 2008-09 when there were 43 serious assaults.
Corrections data for such serious attacks dates back to 1997-98 and shows there were 88 serious assaults on staff in that year and even more in 1998-99, with 97 serious attacks.
The numbers fell significantly at the turn of the century, however, to between 20 and 30 serious assaults for most of the 2000s.
Corrections figures released to the Herald also show 440 staff were attacked in 2016-17 but suffered either no or non-serious injuries.
That financial year the most violent prisons - by number of total assaults - were Mount Eden (87), Hawke's Bay Regional Prison (64), and Auckland Prison (49).
In the year prior, 2014-15, there were 407 assaults - nine classed as serious.
Acting National Commissioner of Corrections Ben Clark said the country's prisons can be a complex and challenging place as staff manage "some of New Zealand's most dangerous people".
"Understanding and managing the risk of violence is a challenge common to all correctional jurisdictions. Despite our best efforts to ensure risk are mitigated we cannot prevent all assaults," he said.
"The goal is always to manage a potentially volatile situation in a manner that minimises the likelihood of violent behaviour.
"While Corrections considers no assault to be acceptable, we acknowledge the reality that these incidents do occur, and that prisons can be difficult environments in which to work."
Clark said more than 75 per cent of the prison population have convictions for violence in their offending histories, and gang members are disproportionately identified as responsible for assaults in prison.
The prison population as of June 30, the latest available statistics, was 9969 - lower than the peak of 10,820 in March last year, when the population was considered to be at crisis level, and 1500 lower than the Ministry of Justice forecast.
Guards accused of falling foul of the law
On the other side of the bars and wire are the Corrections officers.
But there has also been a rising average number of those who have been the focus of an employment investigation for assaulting or threatening a prisoner during the past five years.
In 2014 just two guards were dismissed for such conduct, while one also resigned, Corrections data released to the Herald under the OIA reveals.
By 2016 the number of dismissals remained at two but three resigned and seven were given formal warnings following investigations.
The following year 10 were given warnings, while last year four warnings were dished out up to late September, the statistics show.
Clark said Corrections expects a high standard of conduct from all employees and significant emphasis is placed on this throughout the recruitment and selection processes.
Corrections, he continued, has added some 1400 people to its about 9000-strong work force since 2012.
Most will work in frontline roles, he said.
"The overwhelming majority carry out their roles and responsibilities with high standards of integrity and commitment, in what is often a high pressure and challenging environment.
"Any large organisation may encounter a few staff who cannot maintain the high standards set by the majority, and when staff do not meet the standards required of them we take the appropriate action."
All prisoners who report an alleged assault by staff are given the opportunity to speak to police, Clark said.