Cook Islands Justice Minister apologises over Rimamotu

Chris Rimamotu (Cook Islands Police)
Chris Rimamotu (Cook Islands Police)

The Cook Islands' Justice Minister has apologised for failings which led to an escaped prisoner shooting two people in Rarotonga.

Chris Rimamotu took his own life after killing ex-partner Mary Dean and her new partner Roger Tauera, after escaping custody on Wednesday night.

Justice Minister Nandi Glassie told Newshub: "I accept errors have been made. I apologise to the families involved...this has been a learning curve for us.

"I'm very angry and annoyed at how the inmate came to get a firearm," he said.

Rimamotu was taking part in a community work programme at the time. That is now under review.

The Justice Minister's acknowledgement of failure comes as it was revealed Rimamotu escaped while being taken to a shipping container on his own property by prison staff, after offering to let them borrow his tools to fix a tractor.

He and another inmate were driven to the property on the back of a ute and Rimamotu obtained a firearm and ammunition from the container before fleeing.

Justice Secretary Tingika Elikana has admitted that in the Cook Islands it's not unusual for inmates to travel unsecured on the backs of scooters and utes.