A man who believes charges laid by police for his part in the attack on a fellow prisoner amounts to double jeopardy will now have a court hearing to decide.
Yesterday, Liam Johnson (25) entered a plea of previous conviction to a charge of assault with intent to injure when he appeared in the Invercargill District Court.
He was jointly charged with two fellow prisoners.
The plea is one of three special pleas available to defendants.
According to the Criminal Procedure Act 2011, it will now be up to Johnson to provide information on which the special plea is based.
At an earlier court appearance, Johnson’s lawyer Cate Andersen said when the attack happened, Johnson received a sentence of 15 days’ solitary confinement from a justice of the peace who had visited the prison.
Yesterday, Ms Andersen told Judge Catriona Doyle the Department of Corrections initially contacted the Invercargill police prosecution service to see if they would be laying charges.
“There was an assurance given by Invercargill prosecution that charges would not be laid,” Ms Andersen said.
The matter was dealt with by the prison.
However some months later, police laid charges against Johnson.
“So the defence is effectively one of double jeopardy.”
She would be providing relevant evidence from the Department of Corrections and the Invercargill police prosecution service, Ms Andersen said.
Judge Doyle remanded Johnson to February 27 for a case review hearing.
Paora Tahau (27), who was jointly charged with Johnson, yesterday pleaded guilty to an amended charge of common assault.
He was sentenced by Judge Doyle to a three-month jail term.
Tahau had also previously received a sentence of five days’ self confinement, lost privileges for 21 days and was transferred to the Otago Correctional Facility as a result of his part in the attack.
Judge Doyle said because the charge was amended to the lesser charge, as well as Tahau’s lesser part in the attack and because of his punishment in prison, his three-month jail sentence would be concurrent with his present prison sentence.
A third prisoner who was also charged in relation to the attack has yet to enter a plea.