More jail time for invalid who ’shanked‘ fellow prisoners

More jail time for invalid who ’shanked‘ fellow prisoners

Damian Wereta might be locked up for the next 17 years, but it could have been worse.

The Crown wanted preventive detention -- an indefinite term of imprisonment -- for the 35-year-old Paremoremo inmate who "shanked" two fellow prisoners.

But this morning Justice Pamela Andrews declined the application, instead jailing Wereta for another 7 years 9 months.

The term will be served on top of the 11 and a half year stint the Black Power member was sentenced to in 2013 for a Dunedin armed robbery and a vicious attack on a group of Corrections officers while on remand.

The father of seven -- who was escorted in court by five security officers -- has an extensive history stretching back to 1997 and features 68 convictions, including an attack on a Crown prosecutor in court.

In September 2013, Wereta and three associates went to the cell of another man and launched an attack using at least one homemade weapon.

One of the victims received a wound to his forearm requiring 16 stitches, while the other prisoner received "life-threatening" injuries to his neck and torso.

He was rushed to hospital with a punctured lung and was discharged three days later.

Wereta said the attack was driven by rumours the man had "narced" on him and summarised it simply during interviews with probation.

"It was either me or them," he said.

Wereta's lawyer Ron Mansfield said the comment portrayed the "grim picture" of life in a maximum security prison.

"Dispute resolution in maxi usually results in some physical conflict," he said.

He urged Justice Andrews to take into account the context of the attack and highlighted a report by Sabine Visser which argued against preventive detention and said his client was responding to therapy.

The judge agreed but because the two counts of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm represented Wereta's second strike, the 93-month sentence would have to be served in full without the chance of parole.

But he will not have to look far for family support while inside.

His brother Rawiri is also in Paremoremo with two strikes to his name too.

Most recently he was jailed for an extra 6 years 8 months after stabbing another inmate 18 times and performing a shirtless "victory parade" of the cell block.

Maurangi Pere was jailed for a year for acting as a look out for Damian Wereta.

Anthony Nahi and Sonny Pritchard will be sentenced next month for their role in the 2013 attack.

Damian Wereta: A history of violence

  • February 1, 2013 -- Wereta is given his first strike and jailed for 10 and a half years for a Dunedin armed robbery. He and others beat a member of the public unconscious before entering the dairy. They assaulted and threatened the dairy owner at knifepoint before demanding cigarettes and $1481 from the till. After their arrest they were involved in attacks on four Rimutaka Prison officers while on remand.
  • September 15, 2013 -- He goes to a cell with three others, carrying a shank. One victim sustains a forearm injury requiring 16 stitches. Another inmate is hospitalised with a punctured lung after sustaining multiple injuries to his neck and torso.
  • June 27, 2014 -- Wereta is jailed for another year for assaulting Crown prosecutor Richard Marchant. He left the dock and threw a punch at experienced lawyer. He unsuccessfully tried to place Mr Marchant in a headlock and then grabbed his shoulder but the prosecutor wriggled free and Wereta was restrained by security.
  • May 25, 2015 -- Wereta pleads guilty to the Paremoremo prison attack on the eve of trial.
  • Today -- He is jailed for another 7 years 9 months, meaning a total prison term of 19 years 3 months.