'Revolting' prison wedding has gone ahead

Anna Leask of the NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Jun 2017, 12:04pm

'Revolting' prison wedding has gone ahead

Anna Leask of the NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 27 Jun 2017, 12:04pm

Corrections Minister Louise Upston has labelled the wedding of rapist and murderer Liam Reid and disgraced lawyer Davina Murray "disgraceful" and "revolting".

The Herald revealed last night that Liam James Reid was to marry Murray in Auckland Prison at Paremoremo today.

The wedding went ahead at 10am.

Murray lost her legal career after smuggling an iPhone, cigarettes and a lighter to her client Reid in 2011 while he was in Mt Eden prison.

READ MORE: Outrage as 'despised' murderer Liam Reid allowed to marry in prison

Reid was serving a 23-year sentence for raping and killing deaf woman Emma Agnew in Christchurch in 2007, as well as the rape, attempted murder and robbery of a 21-year-old student in Dunedin nine days later.

It is understood the wedding ceremony was conducted by the prison chaplain and both the bride and groom had guests in attendance.

New Zealand prisons do not allow conjagul visits - so the newlyweds will not be able to consumate the marriage until Reid is released.

Given his hefty sentence that may never happen.

Alongside his life sentence, Reid was handed down preventive detention- an indeterminate prison sentence where even if he is ever released on parole he will remain managed by Corrections for the rest of his life.

Upston said this morning she was not consulted about the wedding, nor was she aware of it until the Herald revealed details last night.

"I find that marriage particularly disgraceful and I think most New Zealanders will," she said this morning.

"Unfortunately it's not against the law to get married in this country but I'm thinking of Emma Agnew's family because they won't get to see her get married.

"I just find it revolting. For her family it will be an absolutely tragic day for them because they know they will not see their daughter get married and I think it's appalling."

Upston indicated she was looking at changes around prison visitation as a result.

"I do think there needs to be a greater level of rigour around who gets to visit," she said.

"In this instance [Murray] is convicted of bringing contraband into a prison.

"I'm quite keen to look at lifetime bans for people who take contraband into prison."

Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales said it was up to individual prison directors to approve weddings.

The director at Auckland Prison is Andy Langley, who took over from Tom Sherlock this year.

"Approvals for a wedding to take place in prison lie with the prison director, who must be satisfied that there is no threat to the safety, security or good order of the prison or any person," Beales told the Herald this morning.

"These are the only grounds for the prison director to decline the ceremony in this case."

He said the director was not required to refer the decision to Corrections' national office.

"We understand that this is a very emotional issue," Beales said.

"Our job is to hold offenders to account, and our staff go to work to do that every single day.

"However, by law prisoners are also allowed to exercise their rights and we have to abide by the law."

Beales said the wedding "has not affected the normal operation of the site" including the duties of prison officers.

"It is standard for prisoners to pay for catering from the prison kitchen for special events, such as family days and graduations."

The Herald is seeking comment from the Agnew family.

The Prison Operations Manual sets out the criteria for inmates to get married while behind bars.

A prisoner can apply to the prison director for a wedding or civil union in a prison if:

• the prisoner provides written proof of their (and partner's) legal entitlement to marry or enter into a civil union ceremony

• the prisoner is mentally competent

• the intended spouse or civil union partner has verified, in writing, an intention to marry or enter into a civil union with the prisoner.

The prison director must decline the application if the marriage ceremony or civil union poses a threat to the security or good order of the prison or the prisoner is entitled to home leave or temporary release.

According to the manual the prisoner must make a written request for a wedding or civil union service "using the prisoner complaint process for an interview with the unit principal Corrections officer" (PCO).

At the meeting the names of all visitors, the marriage celebrant and any prisoners nominated by the prisoner must be provided to the unit PCO.

The PCO must then check the visitors' status in the Integrated Offender Management System and record on the application form, next to the visitors' names, whether they are approved, not approved, or prohibited.

If the application is approved the prison director endorses it and the PCO then forwards the application form to become an approved private visitor, to all non-approved visitors.

Once all guests have security clearance the PCO confirms the date, time, and venue for the service, arranges the refreshments and develops a staff roster.

If the application is declined the prison director "must inform the prisoner in person".

Prisoners can have the decision reviewed through the complaints process, by contacting the Inspector or Ombudsman.

This morning the Herald revealed more details about the "function" including catering and photography arrangements.

- NZ Herald