Inmate dead after attack in kitchen at Auckland's Wiri prison

6:33 pm on 21 December 2023
Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility, a SERCO run high security men’s prison located at Wiri, in Auckland.

Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility, a SERCO run high security men’s prison located at Wiri, in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Sam Olley

An inmate at Auckland's Wiri prison has died after an assault in the facility's kitchen, the jail's operator says.

A Serco spokesperson said in a statement a prisoner assaulted two other prisoners while working in the prison kitchen on Thursday.

"Sadly, one of the men who was assaulted has died. The police have notified his next of kin. A second prisoner remains in hospital being treated for non-life threatening injuries.

"The perpetrator has been secured, segregated and will be transferred to another prison. Police are currently at the prison and are actively investigating.

"Serco will ensure that all evidence, including CCTV footage, is provided to police. All deaths in custody are referred to the Coroner for investigation and determination of cause of death. Serco will also carry out a review."

Police have launched a homicide investigation.

In a statement, Detective Inspector Warrick Adkin of Counties Manukau CIB said police were notified about 11.40am of a serious incident inside the prison.

"One man was found unresponsive and was worked on by medical staff, but sadly he has died at the scene. Another man has been injured and transported to hospital in a serious condition."

One person was assisting police with inquiries, Adkin said.

"Police remain at the site, and we will be working with the Department of Corrections as part of our investigation."

Hato Hone St John Ambulance sent two ambulances and one rapid response unit to the prison. One patient was transported to Middlemore Hospital in a serious condition, it said in a statement.

Serco, which operates the prison, said staff and other prisoners were being provided with support.

Auckland South Corrections Facility (Kohuora), also known as Wiri men's prison, is a high security prison. It holds up to 960 prisoners.

Corrections Association president Floyd du Plessis said they were notified about the incident at 12.30pm and the site went into lockdown.

Assaults were a daily occurrence at prisons - but those of this nature were far less common, he said.

Serious incidents 'extremely rare' - commissioner

Corrections national commissioner Leigh Marsh said the prison site was operating "calmly" this evening with support being provided to staff and prisoners who had been affected by the incident.

"Prisons can be extremely volatile environments and many prisoners behave unpredictably and act without warning," Marsh said in a statement.

"Serious incidents like this in prison are extremely rare, but we know they have a significant impact on staff as well as other prisoners on site."

Marsh said assaults in any prison would not be tolerated and any inmates who resorted to violence would be held to account.

As well as the police investiagation, Serco would conduct a review.

Corrections expected to receive a copy and also that Serco would "act promptly on any recommendations it makes".