RSA murderer William Bell has won the right to appear in person for a review of his prison security levels.
But his attempt to be assisted by another prisoner, a convicted meth trafficker, has been rejected by the High Court.
Bell is applying for a judicial review of his security classification at Auckland Prison, also known as Paremoremo, after it was changed several times by the Department of Corrections in 2019 and 2020.
He launched the legal action after he lost his job in the prison kitchen over allegations he planned to kidnap another inmate last year.
Bell was classed as a low-medium security prisoner at the time, but Corrections increased that rating to maximum before dropping it again.
Corrections wanted him to appear via audio-visual link for the hearing, saying that there had been an active alert about his risk of escape since 2007.
Bell challenged that, saying the alert was based on his escape from a boys' home in 1994 and that he had not escaped during his 20 years in prison.
Judge Matthew Palmer said Corrections' concerns about a possible escape were relevant, but he said that it managed the transfer of prisoners every day and he was confident it could prevent Bell from fleeing during his transfer to court and back.
He also said it was an important hearing and Bell would be at an unjustified disadvantage if he had to appear via audio-visual link.
Bell also applied to be assisted in court by Thomas Cheng, a Singaporean drug trafficker who is serving a 10-year jail sentence for importing and supplying methamphetamine.
This was declined, though Justice Palmer granted Bell permission to have two phone calls with Cheng before his court appearance.
The two-day hearing is set down for December 2 in the Auckland High Court.
Bell became one of New Zealand's most notorious killers when he killed three people and wounded a fourth at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA in December 2001.
Mary Hobson, 44, Wayne Johnson, 56, and William Absolum, 63, were killed during the robbery. Bell bludgeoned them with the butt of his shotgun.
He was initially sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 33 years, reduced to 30 years on appeal.
He was also sentenced to 13 years' imprisonment for attempted murder and a concurrent 12 years for aggravated robbery.
He was on parole at the time of the murders and already had 102 convictions.