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ALDER - Dartelle Maremare James - 26/01/2018

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Dartelle Maremare James ALDER

Hearing: 24 January 2018

at Whanganui Prison via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington

Date of Reserved Decision: 26 January 2018

Members of the Board:

  • Hon M A Frater (Panel Convenor)
  • Ms S Pakura
  • Ms G Hughes
  • Mr B McMurray

Counsel: Ms D Goodlet

In Attendance: [withheld] – Corrections Psychologist

RESERVED DECISION OF THE BOARD

  1. Dartelle Maremare James Alder is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the brutal murder of Lynnie Baxter on 20 January 2001.  He was then 23 years old.  He is now 40.
  2. He pleaded guilty on the morning of trial to that crime and also sexual violation by rape and unlawful sexual connection (x2) and abduction for sex, and was found guilty by a jury of assaulting the victim, using his vehicle as a weapon.
  3. The victim was unknown to him.  She and her partner went out jogging but separated.  When she was only 1.6km away from the place where they were staying, Mr Alder drove into her.  The Judge said that he did so deliberately, but Mr Alder continues to maintain that it was an accident.  She was thrown onto the windscreen of the car and into a ditch.  She suffered severe injuries, but they were not life threatening.  Rather than seek help, Mr Alder put her into his car and drove to an isolated house down a long driveway.  Having ascertained that no one was home, he raped and sexually violated her, then killed her by striking her on the head with a heavy drainage pipe and stabbing her at least 35 times.
  4. He has no previous convictions.
  5. He was sentenced in the High Court on 7 December 2001 to serve a minimum non-parole period of 15 years.  Following a Crown appeal this was increased to 17 years.
  6. We have seen him after his parole eligibility date, which fell on the 22nd of this month.
  7. Mr Alder’s progress in custody has been mixed.
  8. In 2006 he was involved in an altercation with a fellow prisoner at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison.  The other prisoner died after receiving stab wounds and Mr Alder was charged with, but subsequently acquitted of his murder after a trial, on the basis of self-defence.
  9. He has been at Whanganui Prison since 2008.  He is described as a very compliant and hard-working prisoner.  He is living in a harmony unit and working as a mess man and in the timber processing industry. He has a foreman-type role.
  10. Over the years he has attained a number of NZQA work training credits, including first aid, forklift, health and safety and several timber processing related qualifications.  He has also worked with [withheld] but is no longer engaging with either provider.
  11. He has a RoC*Rol score 0.49879 and a low security classification.
  12. Because of identified dynamic risk factors, he has been given an override to undertake the Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme (ASOTP).  He has been working with a psychologist since June to prepare for the intensive, group-based, offence-focussed, treatment programme.  He has not completed any other rehabilitative programmes.
  13. He is assessed as posing a moderate to low risk of further violent and/or sexual offending.  However, if he re-offends, the consequences to potential victims are likely to be catastrophic and result in death.
  14. We talked with Mr Alder about his offending.  At the time of the trial he said he could not remember a lot of what happened.  He told us that in the year after the offending, he had flashbacks, but blocked them out.  He is now able to recall most of what happened, but his memories are somewhat disjointed.  He attributes his index offending to [withheld].  He says that he has difficulty dealing with emotions.  He becomes overwhelmed by them.
  15. We told him of the meeting which we had yesterday morning with members of his victim’s family.  They are a very compassionate family.  Their primary concern is that, while in prison, he receives appropriate treatment so that he does not re-offend post release.  They do not want other victims.  Nor do they want other families to have to experience the traumatic type of events that they, their siblings, and their now deceased mother did and which continue to haunt them all.
  16. In response, Mr Alder acknowledged receiving a letter from the victim’s mother when he went to prison.  He said that it broke his heart.  He said that he could not express how sorry he was for what he put both the victim’s family and his own whanau through and undertook to try to use his time in prison to deal with the issues which led to his offending.
  17. There is no question of parole today.  Mr Alder did not seek it.  His counsel, Ms Goodlet, asked that he be brought back before the Board once he has completed the ASOTP.  On current projections, he is likely to begin it in the next month or so.  The core treatment phase takes about nine months and is followed by maintenance sessions.
  18. In our view, there is no likelihood of Mr Alder being released on parole once he has completed the programme.  While that is an important step, it will by no means be the end of the journey for him.  His responses and reactivity need to be tested in a variety of situations and over time.  At some stage he needs to restart [withheld], which he has not completed, and then there will be a long period of reintegration.  He also needs to work on his release plan.
  19. Parole is declined.  Mr Alder’s next hearing will be in about two years’ time and must be held before 24 January 2020, at the latest.
  20. An updated psychological report is required for that hearing.  This should deal with his progress in the ASOTP and any further [withheld].  It should also report on his updated risk, make recommendations for further treatment and interventions before, and after, release.  Of course, it should also assess the strength of his release plan.
  21. Finally, we note the need for Mr Alder to re-engage with [withheld].  This should happen immediately to assess his mental health needs and the appropriateness of his current medication regime.  He says that he is taking [withheld] on an as-needs basis.  We query whether that is safe.  If he is under [withheld] at the time of the next hearing, a brief report from his treating psychiatrist, is also required.

Hon M A Frater
Panel Convenor