30 May 2017

Prisoner who threatened guard with shank sentenced

8:33 pm on 30 May 2017

A notorious prisoner who threatened a guard with a shank has been sentenced to a further 21 months in prison, but it will not result in a longer sentence.

George Charlie Baker appeared in the North Shore District Court today after being found guilty of threatening to cause grievous bodily harm in April.

Baker is already serving a life sentence for murdering 17-year-old Liam Ashley in the back of a prison van in 2006.

Baker is also serving preventive detention for a hostage siege at the country's maximum security prison at Paremoremo, where he kidnapped an 82-year-old inmate, and a second attack in a prison van, when he tried to kidnap a guard.

Today he was flanked by five guards in the dock and handcuffed to one of them. There were two other security officers in the public gallery.

Baker stood passively as the lawyers made their submissions and Judge Jonathan Down set out what happened inside Paremoremo in August last year.

The judge said Baker was planning on moving cells and some of the guards were helping him with the shift.

He said Baker felt threatened by the increase in guard numbers in the wing and began talking about wanting a fight. He then threatened a guard with a shank.

"After a number of minutes being talked down by one of the more senior officers, with whom you had a decent relationship, you did back off. You dropped the shank that you had picked up, a homemade weapon, and you were then taken into the cell by other officers and the incident was over without any injury."

Baker's lawyer, Annabel Cresswell, said a psychological report showed Baker has a borderline personality disorder that made him prone to resorting to violence.

"[The psychiatrist] said he's likely to over-react to misconstrued threats and experience physical sensations of agitation and panic that cause him to act violently."

Ms Cresswell encouraged Judge Downs to impose a sentence that was effectively a good behaviour bond.

"We may be reaching a point where, as he is becoming more mature, he's looking forward. It says he holds some positive goals for the future and he is motivated to succeed and belong."

But Judge Downs said he needed to send a message.

He said although he could not add to Baker's sentence because he was serving a life sentence for murder, it was important to flag the incident to the Parole Board who would one day assess Baker for a possible release from prison in 2026.

In sentencing, the judge took time off Baker's sentence because of his personality disorder and the violence he witnessed as a child.

"I understand and I do have sympathy for the position that you find yourself in.

"I do recognise that, through no fault of your own and the violence and poor parenting of others, that you struggle with the ability to control your temper."

He said that did not excuse Baker's actions but went some way to explaining them.

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