Two Rolleston prisoners hospitalised: Grossly intoxicated after consuming hand sanitiser

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The Rolleston Prison inmates were taken to hospital after drinking alcohol-based hand sanitiser. Photo / Google Maps

Two prisoners were hospitalised after consuming alcohol-based hand sanitiser, the Herald on Sunday can reveal.

They are understood to be in Rolleston Prison’s Kia Mārama unit for sex offenders and have been charged internally with misconduct after staff noticed they were under the influence of a substance on August 5.

One of the prisoners lost privileges for 10 days and the other still faces a misconduct hearing.

It is understood the two prisoners were behaving strangely at dinner and were later confirmed to be have been drinking hand sanitiser.


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The Herald on Sunday understands one of the prisoners was several times over the legal limit. They both became unwell and were taken to hospital for assessment and treatment.

One of the prisoners returned to the Christchurch prison the following day. The second prisoner experienced complications because of underlying health conditions and had to stay in hospital for six days. He was also taken to a local medical clinic two days later and returned to the prison.

Acting prison director Russell Watkins said the two prisoners had accessed alcohol-based hand sanitiser from a store cupboard staff had unlocked to allow one of the prisoners to access supplies.

”The prisoner was not supervised to a sufficient standard and removed a bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitiser.”


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He added: “Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is not provided to prisoners but is available in staff areas to ensure their health, safety and wellbeing, and of others. The nature of prisons means that bugs can spread quickly, and staff can be limited in their ability to regularly wash their hands with soap and water while carrying out their duties.

“Due to the alcohol content, all alcohol-based hand sanitisers are kept secure away from prisoners. Each prisoner has access to soap and water in their cell.”

He said all alcohol-based hand sanitiser has now been removed from individual units and placed into a central store.

“Staff have also been reminded of the importance of safely storing alcohol-based hand sanitiser to ensure it remains secure.

Career criminal and jailhouse lawyer Arthur Taylor told the Herald on Sunday he’s had bad hangovers from prison “homebrew”.

Former prison inmate Arthur Taylor says prisoners can make homebrew from anything. Photo / Dean Purcell
Former prison inmate Arthur Taylor says prisoners can make homebrew from anything. Photo / Dean Purcell

“You can make booze from anything; you can make it from sultanas, rice, fruit and potato peelings and it’s bloody good too. I had a mate in D block at Pare [Auckland prison] – a murderer and rapist – he made homebrew in three days and the whole block got pissed – he was the best home brew maker I’ve ever come across.”

Carolyne Meng-Yee is an Auckland-based investigative journalist. She has worked for the Herald since 2007 and was previously a commissioner at TVNZ and a current affairs producer for 60 Minutes, 20/20 and Sunday.

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