16 May 2010

Inmate charged after prison officer's death

7:59 pm on 16 May 2010

A prison inmate has been charged with assaulting the Waikato prison officer whose life support was turned off in Middlemore Hospital on Sunday.

Jason Palmer, 33, died from injuries sustained while he was letting an inmate out of his cell at Spring Hill prison on Saturday afternoon.

Detective Inspector Lance Burdett says a post-mortem will be held on Monday to determine the cause of death.

Mr Burdett says the inmate will appear in the Hamilton District Court on Monday charged with assault but more charges could be laid depending on the results of the post-mortem.

Jason Palmer was originally from the United States and had lived in New Zealand for eight years.

Mr Palmer graduated as a prison officer late last year.

He was married and had two young children.

Springhill is a medium to high level security prison. It opened on 27 September, 2007.

Springhill was the venue for the launch of new safety equipment on 26 February. Body armour, spit hoods and batons were being supplied to all prisons, at a cost of $1 million.