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Liam Ashley's death senseless and preventable

Liam Ashley's death senseless and preventable - O'Connor

The corrections system failed Liam Ashley and his family, Corrections Minister Damien O'Connor said today.

The Corrections Inspector's report of the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Liam's death while being transported from court to Auckland Central Remand Prison on August 24, 2006 was given to Liam's family on Friday.

Mr O'Connor said the report was thorough. It finds that the Corrections Department and Chubb were unable to prevent Liam's death by a fellow prisoner by failing to strictly apply their own regulations and keep him apart from older prisoners while being transported.

"This young man's brutal and senseless killing could have been avoided had sufficient emphasis been placed on the regulation that youth be kept separate from adult prisoners during transit.

"There were inaccurate inputs of crucial information to Corrections' data management system, a failure to pass on necessary information, and a failure to take all necessary steps to keep Liam separate.

"I have enormous sympathy for the Ashley family. The system let them and their son down."

Mr O'Connor said that as a result of the investigation there will be an overhaul of the way prison transfers are managed, and the department must make changes wherever they are necessary.

"The report contains recommendations that will amount to an overhaul of the entire processes around prison transfers, including legal obligations with contracting partners. This includes the department issuing specific instructions to ensure that a higher priority is given to the separation of youth, and ensuring that information accompanying prisoners is at all times clear, complete and accurate.

"I have instructed the department's chief executive to inform me urgently how he will carry out these changes.

"Immediately following Liam's death, I directed the department to ensure that prisoners under 18 are kept separate outside of prison in all circumstances. This will continue to stand.

"Tragically, the changes we make will not bring Liam back, but I hope the Ashley family can be reassured that we are doing everything we can to prevent similar tragedies occurring in the future. I have a responsibility to ensure changes are made to prevent such a tragedy from happening again," Mr O'Connor said.

ENDS

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