Covid-positive gang member bailed despite Corrections' concerns

A Black Power gang member was granted electronically monitored bail despite opposition from Corrections.

The man would later go on to contract Covid-19 and pass it on to three family members at his home near Kaiaua on the Hauraki Plains in the North Island.

An area surrounding the tiny settlement is now subject to a Section 70 order imposed by director general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, which means anyone who has visited the area has to self-isolate until Friday.

The man had been remanded for several months for charges including dishonesty offences and the alleged theft of electric guitars from a Mt Roskill music shop, Stuff reported.

He appeared in the Manukau District Court on September 6 for a bail application which was ultimately successful.

However, Stuff reports the application was opposed by Corrections but he was granted electronically monitored bail by the judge, nonetheless.

Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumanu said the judge imposed "strict conditions" on the man.

They included "that a specified family member was to collect him from Mt Eden Corrections Facility and transport him directly to the bail address without any unnecessary stops and that he reside at the bail address 24 hours a day, seven days a week and not move or leave that address without prior approval".

However, Corrections yesterday confirmed the 36-year-old gang member made four stops on his journey home.

Neil Beales, Corrections' chief custodial officer, said they comprised stops at two private addresses in Mt Albert and Māngere, one to a supermarket in Pokeno and one stop on the side of the road close to his bail address.

The prisoner arrived at his bail address at 12.28pm, two hours and 19 minutes after leaving the prison.

Although Jacinda Ardern this morning said she knew how the prisoner caught Covid and where, that was yet to be made public.

However, yesterday Ardern and Bloomfield believed he was infected after leaving prison in Auckland, and before arriving home - possibly by the person who drove him to the bail address.

Corrections staff were confident the prisoner did not have Covid-19 while in prison.

Beales also revealed the prisoner had received his first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine on the day of his release.

The prisoner remained within the boundary of the bail address until September, when he visited a car park about 250 metres away.

He then presented himself to police because his address had become unavailable and the court had revoked his bail and issued a warrant for his arrest.

The man was then in Police custody overnight, before being transported to Mt Eden Corrections Facility on September 17.

Beales confirmed five prisoners at Mt Eden who are considered as close contacts have returned negative day-three test results. The trio will continue to be tested and will be managed in quarantine protocols.

Two prisoners initially refused to be tested. However, one has now been tested.

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