BARR - Jason Alistor - 21/01/2016
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Jason Alistor BARR
Hearing: 21 January 2015 at [Withheld]
Members of the Board:
Judge M Crosbie (Panel Convenor)
Ms L Nathan
Ms F Pimm
Support persons: [Withheld]
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Jason Alistor Barr appeared before the Board today, his parole eligibility date being 26 January 2016. Mr Barr was represented by counsel, [Withheld]. [Withheld] has represented Mr Barr throughout this matter.
2. [Withheld]’s submission was that Mr Barr was realistic that he would not be granted parole today. He is motivated to address his issues. He is attending the Drug Treatment Unit Programme which is scheduled to be completed on 27 May 2016. He is also receiving counselling and treatment for [Withheld].
3. The Board discussed with Mr Barr and counsel that it attended a victim meeting with several members of Mr Smith’s family. As authorised by the late [Withheld], the Board provided Mr Barr with a copy of their submission to the Parole Board in advance of todays hearing.
4. That submission contains scepticism about Mr Barr’s level of remorse. Mr Barr was surprised at the content of the written submission. He considered the Restorative Justice process to be a thoroughly positive one. Mr Barr also took issue with the position of the victims that he had not taken full responsibility for his offending. [Withheld]’s submission was that Mr Barr has accepted responsibility throughout.
5. It is not for this Board to reconcile the differences in perspective about the restorative justice meeting. However it must be said that the sentencing notes of Mander J make it clear that when first spoken to by the police, Mr Barr denied his involvement. He stated that Mr Smith had poured petrol on himself before setting himself alight, denying any involvement. Subsequently, Mr Barr claimed he was unable to remember exactly what happened.
6. It appears that this initial position taken by Mr Barr accounts for some scepticism on the part of the victims as to his acceptance of his level of responsibility. The Board was concerned about Mr Barr’s reaction to the victim’s concerns. The reaction bordered on anger. Mr Barr’s presentation perhaps validates some of the victims concerns. Instead of arguing about competing perceptions of the Restorative Justice conference, the Board at this time might have expected to see some empathy and understanding from Mr Barr.
7. The Board’s position is that it deals with Mr Barr on the basis that he has pleaded guilty to the facts set out by the Court. Mr Barr tells the Board that he now accepts that his responsibility extended to pouring the petrol on the late Mr Smith, acting in concert with Mr Webster who ignited the petrol.
8. Today [Withheld] effectively sought some guidance from the Board as to what is required of Mr Barr, including when the Board would see Mr Barr again. It is positive, of course, that Mr Barr is attending the DTU. However, in addition to the crime that sees Mr Barr coming to prison on this occasion, the Board is also entitled to have regard to Mr Barr’s overall criminal history. In the Board’s view, Mr Barr has displayed some 30 years of versatile, recidivist, offending. That offending includes other offending involving violence. It may well be that there are matters in Mr Barr’s past that contributed to his offending. However, the critical issue is for Mr Barr to both gain and demonstrate skill acquisition from rehabilitative and reintegrative programmes. It is insufficient in the Board’s view for Mr Barr to simply complete the DTU Programme and expect to be seen by the Board immediately. Any skills acquired by such a course will need to be demonstrated.
9. It is clear from the above comments, and the Board’s perusal of Mr Barr’s history, that a psychological report should be obtained, The Board therefore directs such a report. The Board also directs that if such a report concludes that any form of psychological counselling or therapy is appropriate, that such counselling or therapy commence ahead of the next Board hearing.
10. At this stage, given the above comments including the Board’s observation of Mr Barr’s history and courses and work that require to be undertaken, the Board cannot be satisfied that he does not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community and it declines his release on parole. The Board considers that the appropriate time to next see Mr Barr will be in February 2017.
Judge M Crosbie