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Corrections exposed public to further Burton risk

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

1 April 2008

Corrections exposed public to further Burton risk

Corrections Minister Phil Goff should explain why convicted killer Graeme Burton was driven five times between Auckland and Wellington for court appearances when he could have been safely held in Rimutaka Prison, says National’s Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

He is releasing information obtained under the Office Information Act showing that Corrections took Burton by road between Auckland and Wellington in April last year for two court appearances – to be sentenced for the murder of Karl Kuchenbecker, and on charges of aggravated robbery and burglary. The total cost was $19,501.69.

“Corrections say they were forced to hold him in Auckland and take him to Wellington for his court appearances because there is no maximum security unit in Wellington.

“But there is a secure unit at Rimutaka. Former Corrections Minister Damien O’Connor has admitted the prison can hold maximum security prisoners on ‘a temporary basis pending transfer to Auckland Prison’ in its 30-bed Management Unit.

“And the fact is that Burton would have needed to have been held only temporarily in Rimutaka anyway – there being only a matter of weeks between his initial transfer to Auckland in March and his last court appearance in Wellington on April 11.

“CEO Barry Matthews cites safety as a reason for taking him to Auckland, but, faced with either holding him in a secure unit in Upper Hutt and driving him 30 minutes to court, or holding him in Auckland and driving him for eight or nine hours each time, I know which option I would prefer as the safer.

“I wonder if the real reason is that they wanted to get him away from Rimutaka because he was embarrassing them with his intimidation – he had been involved in one riot, and was transferred after apparently threatening to ‘play up’ if he wasn’t transferred.

“But that still doesn’t give them the right to expose the public unnecessarily to someone who Barry Matthews described as ‘an extremely dangerous individual’ by taking him all that way by road five times.

“The fact that it was done at a cost to the taxpayer of $19,500 simply rubs salt into the wound.

“Phil Goff would be better explaining why the public was put at such unnecessary risk from a repeat murderer than labelling my questions ‘inane’.”

ENDS

Attachments: Answers to parliamentary questions (4 pages)

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