GRANT - Matthew Bernard - 28/06/2016
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Matthew Bernard GRANT
Hearing: 28 June 2016 at [Withheld]
Members of the Board:
Hon. M A Frater – Panel Convenor
Dr J Skipworth
Mr J Thomson
Mr D Hauraki
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Matthew Bernard Grant is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the murder of Max Shannon.
2. This crime was committed on 8 August 2000. It was a gang related crime. Mr Shannon was a member of the [Withheld]. Mr Grant and his co-offenders, Murray Simms, Garth Bucknall and Dean Nathan were members of [Withheld]. Following tensions between the two groups and an incident between Mr Shannon and Mr Simms, plans were put in place for retaliation. A decision was made that someone would die. That someone was Mr Shannon.
3. Mr Grant elected trial and was found guilty of what the sentencing Judge described as “a carefully planned and premeditated execution”. He said that “those involved in the planning and execution of the plan displayed utter contempt, not only for the law, but also for public safety”.
4. Mr Grant was sentenced to serve a minimum period of imprisonment of 14 years. His sentence began on 29 November 2000. That was the date on which he was sentenced to four years imprisonment on a charge of wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, arising out of a previous, unrelated, incident.
5. Mr Grant became eligible to be released on parole on 17 July last year.
6. Mr Grant has a long history of offending, dating back to 1979 when he appeared in the Youth Court. His previous convictions are mainly for traffic and dishonesty/property related offending. He also has a number of convictions for using or possessing firearms.
7. For many years Mr Grant did not obey the rules in custody. He spent time in maximum security and regularly held identified drug user status. That changed from 2012 onwards.
8. When he appeared before the Board last year, immediately following his parole eligibility date, Mr Grant was undertaking the STURP programme. This is an intensive programme run over nine to 12 months. Although he had made progress in treatment, there were still issues concerning his criminal thinking and attitudes, and managing his aggression.
9. Since then, he has duly completed the STURP programme and the recommended three months in the graduates’ group.
10. He transferred to [Withheld] in October last year and since November has been employed in the [Withheld] where he is gaining qualifications and experience as [Withheld].
11. He has held a minimum security classification since 23 September 2013 and has not been mentioned in any recent misconduct reports.
12. Mr Grant told us that he left the gang many years ago. He said he did so at the urging of [Withheld]. This made him realise how much they had missed out, and caused him to distance himself from the gang. There is no indication that he is currently involved with [Withheld]., or any other gang.
13. Mr Grant was assessed by the psychologist following his completion of the [Withheld] programme. He is reported to have made positive changes and to have sustained those changes. His ongoing risk of violent re-offending is assessed as moderate.
14. He has a strong release and relapse prevention plan.
15. He says that he accepts the need to make a fresh start and he is fortunate to have the support of [Withheld].
16. Mr Grant is keen to get on with his life. In prison he has completed a number of units towards a BA degree. He wants to complete the degree. He has also written a number of books. He wants to continue doing that. He is keen to earn money to buy his own house and he wants to act as a mentor to young people who are at risk of going off the rails, as he did.
17. He needs to listen to [Withheld], and says that he will support him to do so.
18. Mr Grant has spent some 15 years in custody. He has not had any temporary releases during that time and, of course, because of the changes in Corrections’ policy, they are generally no longer available to life-sentenced prisoners. The community will have changed during that time. He will need support to reintegrate.
19. The writer of the latest psychological report said that Mr Grant will need support to monitor his high expectations about achieving self-imposed standards for success. [Withheld] will assist him in that, as will [Withheld].
20. Given the progress that Mr Grant has made in addressing the causes of his offending, the changes that he has made, and the very strong support available to him in the community, we are satisfied that his risk of reoffending can be mitigated and managed in the community with the conditions which we will impose. Accordingly, we have decided to release him on parole.
21. We are, however, deferring the date of his release for [Withheld] weeks. If temporary releases, even escorted, were available during this time, we would support them. However, as a minimum we consider it essential that there is a pre-release meeting with his supporters and prospective Probation Officer and attended by the psychologist who worked with him in [Withheld] or the psychologist who wrote the most recent assessment report. This will give Mr Grant the opportunity to talk about his High Risk situations and for all his supporters to work together to facilitate his release and reintegration. This should be followed by another meeting, post release.
22. We talked to Mr Grant about the meeting which we had earlier in the week with the brother of his victim. He told us that although he has forgiven Mr Grant, he did not want to face running into him in the future, which is understandable. He therefore asked that, if we were to release him, we impose a condition prohibiting Mr Grant from entering the [Withheld]. We support that.
23. We appreciate that Mr Grant’s children live in [Withheld], and that this may be difficult for them. However, we consider it important from the victim’s perspective that the condition be respected, and that permission to enter the area only be given in exceptional circumstances.
24. We also support a condition prohibiting Mr Grant from possessing or consuming alcohol or illicit drugs, given that substance abuse was an issue in his prior offending and that he continued to be an identified drug user for a number of years in custody.
25. Finally, it will be noted that we are requiring Mr Grant to attend a progress hearing in March next year. We are doing this because of the long time he has spent in custody without any releases into the community [Withheld]. This hearing needs to be in person, although it can be facilitated by AVL.
26. Mr Grant will be released on parole on 8 August next, subject to the standard conditions set out in section 14 of the Parole Act 2002, for life, and, unless otherwise specified, the following special conditions for five years post-release.
27. The special conditions are:-
(1) To attend a whanau/family hui at an approved venue within a time frame to be determined by your Probation Officer.
(2) To attend individual treatment with a departmental psychologist. To attend and complete any treatment/counselling as recommended by the psychologist to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer and treatment provider.
(3) To attend and complete appropriate treatment/counselling/programme for identified offending behaviours to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer and programme provider. Details of the appropriate treatment/counselling/ programme to be determined by your Probation Officer.
(4) To reside at [Withheld] and not to move from that or any other approved address without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(5) To notify your Probation Officer prior to starting, terminating or changing your position or place of employment.
(6) Not to have contact or otherwise associate with the victim(s) of your offending, directly or indirectly, without the prior written approval of your Probation Officer.
(7) Not to communicate or associate with any active member or associate of the [Withheld] gang and/or any other gang member known to you, without the prior written approval of your Probation Officer.
(8) Not to communicate or associate with Dean Waka Nathan, Dean Carleo Noble, Donald Roger Wright, Garth Geoffrey Bucknall or Murray Arnold Simms, without the prior written approval of your Probation Officer.
(9) Not to enter or remain in [Withheld] as defined by the Local Government Act and delineated on a map provided to you by your Probation Officer, without the prior written approval of your Probation Officer.
(10) Not to possess or consume alcohol or illicit drugs.
(11) To attend a hearing in February 2017, on a date and at a place notified to you by the New Zealand Parole Board to monitor your progress on parole.
Hon. M A Frater