Prisoner at centre of Waikato COVID outbreak appears to have breached multiple bail conditions

The prisoner at the centre of a fresh COVID outbreak in the Waikato appears to have breached multiple bail conditions.

Corrections GPS records show the man made four stops on the way to his bail address at Whakatiwai, including stopping at two private homes in Mt Albert and Mangere, a supermarket in Pokeno and a stop on the side of the road near his bail address.

It's also been established the prisoner was picked up from jail by three people.

The prisoner was bailed from Mt Eden prison to a house near Kaiaua on September 8. He was never tested.

The Chief District Court Judge Heemi Taumaunu told Newshub the bail conditions set for the prisoner were "strict", and he was supposed to be collected by a "specified family member" and go directly to his address "without any unnecessary stops".

However, it turns out three people picked him up from jail. The person who infected him then stayed with him in the Waikato - breaching the rules - rather than returning to level 4 in Auckland.

On September 16, he drove to a police checkpoint at Waharau Regional Park after a warrant for his arrest was issued when his bail address was no longer deemed suitable.

Corrections chief custodial officer Neil Beales said the warrant was issued after the prisoner strayed from his bail address.

"He remained within the boundary of the bail address until 12:47pm on 16 September, when he visited a carpark about 250 metres away from the address, and then presented himself to Police because his address had become unavailable and the court had revoked his bail and issued a warrant for his arrest."

He appeared in the Manukau District Court on Friday, September 17, and tested positive on Sunday, September 19.

Seven Corrections officers and a number of court and police staff are now in isolation - initial results have come back negative. Five prisoners have also returned negative day three tests.

"It does surprise me, I would have thought they would have been testing. I'm also surprised that someone was bailed from Auckland to an outside Auckland - an outside alert 4 address at all," Corrections' associate vice president Paul Dennehy said.

The Government says the prisoner wasn't tested as they'd come out of prison - effectively a quarantine environment.

"It's very clear that this person has become infected by someone who has been involved in their journey to their bail address," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

But that doesn't wash with experts.

"Remand prisoners are a high-risk group for being infected, and also for potentially transmitting this virus, so that is surely a group that should have been prioritised for testing," said University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker.

Allan Sanson, Waikato District Council Mayor, told Newshub it's unbelievable.

"I'm incredibly angry and anyone would be angry. I can only imagine the anger and anxiety that's up in that community today," he said.

"It disappoints me immensely that someone hasn't put their hand up and said 'sorry, we've stuffed up here'."

Border testing for essential workers was made a requirement on September 9. But Professor Baker says testing rules were known well before this date.

"I think this is an example of someone who has fallen through the cracks in the system."

The Chief District Court judge says the "strict" conditions imposed on prisoners included electronic monitoring. But clearly, this was a high-trust model and it's backfired.