Assault on prison guard extends inmate's sentence

A man who knocked a prison officer unconscious earlier this year has had six months added to his sentence.

Herbert Marsden, 33, was approaching the end of a five and a-half year prison term when he punched the 50 year-old officer in retaliation for disciplinary charges three days earlier, the Dunedin District Court heard yesterday.

After the unprovoked one-punch attack, Marsden stood over the then unconscious officer and said "That's what you get for charging me", before waiting to be returned to his cell.

The officer laid the internal prison charges of inciting on April 29 because Marsden had been encouraging two other inmates who had barricaded themselves in their cell to continue disrupting and damaging the unit, the summary from Crown counsel Richard Smith said.

The defendant was released from his cell about 8am on May 2 by the victim and two other officers. He walked out and was subjected to a "rubdown search".

Immediately afterwards, Marsden turned towards the victim and, without warning, punched him once on the side of the face. It was a full force blow which knocked the officer off his feet and rendered him unconscious, the summary said.

After the officer staggered to his feet, he helped his two colleagues lock the defendant in his cell.

The victim had a swollen left cheek, swelling and a cut to his inside upper lip, a stiff neck and a sore shoulder, lower back and hip.

Marsden admitted a Crimes Act assault and was sentenced to six months' jail, the term to be cumulative on his existing sentence.

Judge Michael Crosbie said the defendant was fortunate to be charged with a Crimes Act assault which carried a one-year maximum.

Given the circumstances, the Crown could have proceeded on a far more serious charge.

The increase in the number of assaults on prison officers was a matter of concern, the judge said.

A clear message was needed that those who assaulted Corrections officers would be dealt with severely.

Prison was "not a two-way street". Those who were in prison were expected to comply and prison officers should receive the full support of the law in carrying out their duties, Judge Crosbie said.

 

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