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A "con air" flight has been chartered by Corrections to transport criminals from the South Island to the North.
The flight, which the Otago Daily Times understands will leave Christchurch for Auckland on April 23, will carry four prisoners, two of whom are heading to the country’s only maximum-security unit at Paremoremo.
While Corrections national commissioner Rachel Leota would not confirm the specifics of the flight or the security measures involved in the transportation, she said a “thorough risk assessment” would be undertaken beforehand.
“This includes specifying the number of escorting staff, the transport method, whether the prisoner will be GPS-monitored while outside of prison and the restraint type used,” she said.
Ms Leota said a third man aboard the flight had been released on parole to the North Island and the fourth had been remanded to appear in the Manukau District Court on April 24.
That man was 42-year-old Anthony Paul Brocas, who appeared in the Dunedin District Court on Tuesday.
He was charged with breaching a protection order by intimidating and psychologically abusing the complainant and defence counsel Chris Lynch proposed bail to his mother’s home south of Auckland.
The court heard Corrections was putting on the special charter, which Judge Michael Crosbie called “something of a Con Air flight”.
If the transportation fell through, Brocas would simply remain behind bars, the judge said.
The defendant’s hope was that the Manukau District Court would grant him bail since police did not oppose him remaining up north.
“We are taking every precaution to minimise movements where we can, and to ensure it is safe to carry out any essential movement required,” Ms Leota said.
She confirmed all prisoners would be health screened before departure.
The flight, Ms Leota said, was the safest way of transportation with the Level 4 Covid-19 restrictions still in effect.
“To release someone at one end of the country with no means to travel home would place them and our communities at significant risk,” she said.
“[Air travel] enables us to ensure the time a prisoner spends outside of a prison is limited, thereby minimising risk to the safety of the public ... Corrections Officers accompany prisoners on all air transfers, and additional airport security staff and prison staff are stationed at the receiving airport.”