No extra time for assaulting guards

The Herald reports:

A dangerous high-security prisoner who killed a Corrections officer has been sentenced for assaulting two more but will spend no extra time in prison, a penalty the prison guards’ union calls disgraceful.

Latu Kepu was already serving a jail sentence for the manslaughter of prison guard Jason Palmer when he attacked two other guards in separate incidents last October.

Kepu was sentenced at the North Shore District Court yesterday after previously pleading guilty to two charges of assault.

Judge Philippa Sinclair sentenced him to seven months in prison, to be served concurrently. That means Kepu will not have time added on to his sentence and is still eligible for parole in 2015 on his manslaughter conviction.

Well that will teach him a lesson. Not a single extra day in prison for bashing two prison guards up.

It is disgraceful. This makes life even more dangerous for prison guards if prisoners see they can bash them up and not get any extra penalty.

UPDATE: The disgrace it seems is the Herald story, not the sentence. Whale Oil blogs an e-mail from the Ministry of Justice:

In fact, Latu Kepa was sentenced yesterday in the North Shore Court on a s9 Summary Offences Act assault and a s196 Crimes Act assault (both on prison guards) to 7 months imprisonment cumulatively on his present sentence of Manslaughter. I have checked the court file, the prison warrant and listened to the court recording at the relevant part and all of them refer to a cumulative sentence.

I’m sorry to say the Corrections Association also seems to have been misinformed : “At a minimum, the seven-month sentence should have been cumulative to the manslaughter sentence, Mr Hanlon said.”

Please let me know if you require any further assistance,

Warm regards,


Sonja de Friez.
Director of Community Engagement, District Courts.

That is a huge error by the Herald to get the main fact of the story wrong. My regrets that I assumed the story was correct in criticizing the sentence.

The Herald have removed their story from their website. I trust it will be replaced by an apology.

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