Con AirNZ

Shane Cowlishaw reports on something that’s been happening right under your nose. The Dom Post has splashed their scare story about prisoners being transported on planes.

It’s real shock horror stuff – with pictures and a video of a crim at the airport.

New Zealand’s most violent prisoners are being transported on public flights in a move described as highly dangerous by prison staff and their union.

Inmates from Rimutaka Prison must be transferred to New Zealand’s only specialist maximum-security prison, Paremoremo, within 48 hours of being reclassified as maximum security.

Previously the transfer has been made via road from Wellington to Auckland or by charter plane, but senior Corrections sources have confirmed prisoners began being transferred on Air New Zealand flights just before Christmas.

Companies such as Airwork and more recently Vincent Aviation have had special Con Air flights.  Charter or commercial flights are believed to be used when there are too many prisoners that need to be moved and the Corrections Department’s own buses are fully committed. 

Each prisoner has been escorted during the trips by three uniformed guards.

At least four are understood to have been flown on Air NZ flights in the past month, with Arthur Briggs, who with four other inmates viciously attacked a guard in 2012, one of the first to be transferred.

Earlier this week another two prisoners were flown to Auckland, escorted by six guards. One of the prisoners was Dean Vincent, whose jail sentence for burglary was extended last year after he stabbed a fellow inmate in the neck with a knife made from a toothbrush and a piece of metal.

Another prisoner, who was reclassified after assaulting a staff member, was flown yesterday.

It is understood prisoners are handcuffed during the trip, but some pilots request that the restraints be removed during flight.

Those pilots are idiots… a person who has previously been involved with Corrections Department prisoner flights told that until prisoners were cuffed with belt restraints, they would generally damage the plane by leaving graffiti or cutting the seat upholstery.

But the way the story is written you’d think this is something new, scary and terrible it screams at you.

Read the whole story. And this line jumps out:


“the department said it had been shifting maximum-security prisoners via scheduled domestic flights “for decades” and there had been no policy change”


and also

“Air NZ spokeswoman Kelly Kilgour said it was inappropriate to comment on specific security but there had been no change to the arrangement with the department.”

So this is nothing new? And the reporter was aware of this?

The real story here is that it seems the union has tipped off the newspaper about a prisoner being transported so that cameras can be in place in order to bash Corrections. Surely this is a serious operational security breach? Surely Corrections now needs to conduct an investigation to find out who alerted the Dompost to a prisoner transit operation?

Rimutaka Prison is of course the hot bed of union strife in Corrections. Jacinda Ardern and Bevan Hanlon are real cosy these days.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Corrections union and it’s president, Bevan Hanlon, for a long time.

It may be time to shine some light on this clown and his past since he sees fit to comment on prisoner transit operations…something he knows all too well.


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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.