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NICHOLSON - Michelle Elizabeth Anne - 10/11/2016

Parole hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Michelle Elizabeth Ann NICHOLSON

Hearing: 10 November 2016 at NZPB Head Office via AVL to (withheld)

Members of the Board:

  • Judge J P Gittos QSO (Panel Convenor)
  • Mr B McMurray
  • Mr P Elenio
  • Dr J Skipworth

In attendance:

  • (withheld)

Support Persons:

  • (withheld)

DECISION OF THE BOARD

1. Ms Nicholson is serving a sentence of life imprisonment imposed upon her for murder.

2. She was sentenced in July 1997 for murder.  She was active in instigating the murder of her then older male partner by a younger male lover evidently for financial gain.  It was clearly an offence which involved premeditation and highly manipulative behaviour on the part of the prisoner.  Prior to that she had a lengthy list of previous convictions for dishonesty and drug offending.  She has twice been released on parole and recalled.

3. The most recent recall occurred on an interim basis in early December 2015 with a final recall order having being made on 5 February 2016.  At the time of her recall she had been in the community since May 2011 when she had previously been released after the earlier recall.  The circumstances of her recall in December 2015 involved a police search of her house which revealed quantities of drugs (probably methamphetamine) and paraphernalia for the consumption thereof in various locations through the house including Ms Nicholson’s bedroom.  When she was confronted with this by the police officer, she attempted to persuade him not to pursue charges against her offering in return to give him evidence implicating others.  Naturally the police officer did not accede to this urging.  It is however, behaviour of the same manipulative character as must have been deployed in her index offending.  In the event she was not charged with any offences relating to this episode.  Possibly because the police being aware of her status as a life prisoner, would have anticipated a recall.

4. She appears today with counsel (withheld) seeking a further release and is supported by a strong and credible support group of people who are plainly pro-social and strongly supportive of her.

5. We note however that she had a sound support group on a previous occasion and appears to have been able to deflect them from intervention in the circumstances that led to her recall.  There is a concerning note in the parole assessment report which indicates that she has IDU free status on the basis that a sample was required for cause  in April 2016 but the sample was rejected.  (withheld).

6. The Board did not consider that Ms Nicholson was entirely candid with the Board when questioned concerning these matters which go directly to her risk as an addictive personality in relation to drug offending.  We note that the explanations that she made on this occasion do not tally with those which she gave the Board on the last occasion that she was asked about these things.  We understand from the psychologist’s report and from Ms Nicholson herself that since her recall she has done some quite substantial one-on-one work with the psychologist.  However, the report which we have does not make any substantive reference to this work and appears largely to have been drawn from historical sources.  The report that we do have in fact recommends that such work be done which tends to indicate that it was written at an earlier stage.  It is evident however from the report and from what Ms Nicholson herself acknowledges that some ongoing psychological treatment and support is going to be necessary even if she is as she wishes to be released at this point.

7. The Board considers at this stage without this process having being completed and a thorough report on the outcome made available, we cannot see the risk as being such that Ms Nicholson can properly be admitted to parole at this point.

8. Parole today accordingly is declined.  We will see Ms Nicholson again in six months that is to say, before the beginning of June 2017.

Judge J P Gittos QSO
Panel Convenor