Death of inmate leaves family seeking answers

By Aroha Treacher
  • North Island: East Coast

The family of Kolby Heta, an inmate who died while in Hawke's Bay Regional prison, are seeking answers to the cause of his death.  The family say his injuries were horrific and they claim they've been left out in the dark. 

Kolby's family today returned to the place where he died at Hawke's Bay Regional Prison.

"Where's the protection for prisoners?   What happened to Kolby that he came back to Gisborne, to his family, to his mum in a coffin?" says family spokesperson Yvonne Bishop.

They say they were notified on Saturday of his death and they buried him on Tuesday at Hine Tamatea in Anaura Bay, Gisborne, but say they were shocked by his injuries.

"The state of his body was... I can't even compare how bad it was.  I didn't want my son to see his uncle like that.  I saw bruising, I saw shrapnel engraved in his body," says his sister-in-law Tawai Ryland.

"We want the world to know that we are here- that people do care, not for one inmate, but for all all inmates.  They have family and all inmates have rights," she says.

The Department of Corrections will not comment on the specifics as it is now before the coroner, however they say they have sent their condolences to the family and will continue to stay in touch with them.

In a statement Nephi Hall, Acting Prison Director of Hawke's Bay Regional Prison said, "Police are investigating on behalf of the Coroner, who will determine the cause of the man’s death.  The Corrections Inspectorate will also carry out a review."