The story of how a candy tube full of methamphetamine ended up firing out of a prisoner’s backside continues, with a jury unable to reach a verdict in the alleged smuggler’s trial.
Judge Stephanie Edwards discharged the jury in Rachel Elizabeth Howarth’s trial in the Palmerston North District Court on Tuesday afternoon. It started deliberating on Monday afternoon.
Howarth had been on trial for a week, charged with supplying Manawatū Prison inmate Errol Danklof with methamphetamine.
The judge thanked jury members for their efforts, saying “it happens”.
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The Crown alleged Howarth gave Danklof the drugs while visiting him on July 9, 2016.
Prison officers told the trial Howarth visited Danklof often, but they noticed she made an especially quick toilet stop during the July visit.
That made them suspicious, so a CCTV operator focused cameras on the then-couple.
Howarth was seen to put her right hand into Danklof’s lap while they kissed and cuddled at an outdoor picnic table.
The table could fit two people on each side, but there were barriers up through the middle, both ways, blocking any view of what may have been in her hand.
Danklof was then seen to fiddle with the back of his overalls before being taken to the strip search room.
A prison officer described an M&Ms tube wrapped in red tape being “fired” from Danklof’s backside when he was made to do a deep squat during the search.
Analysis found the tube to contain 14 grams of methamphetamine, while a stretched condom was found in the disabled toilets in the visitor’s centre after Howarth’s visit.
Crown prosecutor Michael Blaschke said Howarth used the bathroom to remove the tube from where she had hidden it on her person, taken it back into the visiting room, then put it in Danklof’s lap while they were at the picnic table.
Danklof then managed to get the tube into a shoe, then transferred it down the back of his overalls, into his pants and then his underwear, Blaschke said.
It was not definitive what happened after that, but the fact the tube was “fired” meant it was likely Danklof placed it up his bottom, Blaschke said.
But Danklof, who gave evidence in Howarth’s defence, said he had the tube up his backside a long time before the prison visit.
He got the tube from a new inmate in his wing, who initially said he had nothing of the sort on him, Danklof said.
Danklof found out different, confronted him in the shower block, punched him in the face and took the tube, he said.
He decided to place it up his bottom during the visit because he was afraid of having his cell searched.
Howarth also gave evidence, saying she had not idea the tube existed until police got involved.
She will be back in court in March, with a new trial date yet to be set.