CORRECTIONS

Escaped prisoner in Waitemata District, 1:40pm

Thursday 22 January 2009, 2:54PM
By New Zealand Police
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NORTH SHORE CITY

North Shore Police say the decision by an inmate to escape from custody prior to his future release from long term incarceration at Auckland Prison is unusual and of concern.

The 30 year old prisoner Arai HEMA has been considered a minimum security inmate. At about 2.30pm Wednesday afternoon 21 January 2009 he disappeared from a work party in the grounds of the prison.
A Police Dog Unit tracked HEMA to a nearby road, where it appears he could have been picked up by a waiting vehicle.

Police say the motivation for the prisoner's sudden disappearance is unknown. HEMA has family, friends and associates throughout the North Island and enquiries are being made with all known contacts in an effort to find him.

Waitemata District Field Crime Manager, Detective Inspector Steve WOOD says police are concerned at the rationale that this inmate has displayed. He has chosen to escape at a time when he is under consideration to achieve parole in the near future.

'The decision by any long term inmate to escape from custody and thereby jeopardize the prospect of achieving parole is a rare occurrence. This inmate's behaviour indicates a degree of instability.'

'HEMA had a history of violent offending in his youth. He's been in prison for the past decade after being sentenced for serious and violent crimes including sexual assault.'

'It's possible that HEMA has been assisted in his escape and we are investigating the circumstances surrounding this. If anyone has sighted this wanted prisoner or seen any suspicious vehicle in the vicinity of Auckland prison yesterday afternoon, call police urgently. Do not approach him.'

'We urge Mr. HEMA to contact us to discuss handing himself in as the longer he is at large the worse this will affect his eventual release date,' Detective Inspector WOOD said.