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RAY - Leith Rex - 24/08/2016

Parole and Postponement hearing

Under sections 21(1)  and 27(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Leith Rex RAY

Hearing:   24 August 2016 at New Zealand Parole Board, Head Office AVL with [Withheld]

Members of the Board:

  • Hon. MA Frater – Panel Convenor
  • Judge D Mather
  • Assoc. Prof. P Brinded
  • Dr S Davis

In attendance:  [Withheld]

Counsel: [Withheld]

Support person: [Withheld]

DECISION OF THE BOARD

1. Leith Rex Ray is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the murder of Josephine and John Harrison on 1 June 1994, when he was 20 years old.  He is now 42.

2. Mr Ray was released on parole on 8 February this year but returned to prison on 15 March pursuant to an interim recall order made the previous day.

3. We have seen him today in accordance with the Board’s policy, following the making of the final recall order on 12 April.

4. In addition to considering whether Mr Ray could be safely re-released, we also considered whether or not to make a postponement order against him.

5. Through his counsel, [Withheld], Mr Ray sought to be released on parole, but if that was not granted, he opposed the making of a postponement order.

6. [Withheld] noted that Mr Ray had pleaded guilty to breaching one of the conditions of his release, namely not to possess or consume alcohol or illicit drugs, and was sentenced on 13 July to two months imprisonment.  As a result, his parole eligibility date was adjusted to 13 July 2016.

7. Counsel submitted that if he were released with tight parole conditions to live with his [Withheld], (which he said, was a more suitable address than [Withheld] where he was released previously) Mr Ray would not pose an undue risk.

8. We do not agree.

9. At the outset Mr Ray was challenged about his methamphetamine use.  Although he entered a guilty plea to the breach charge, he continued to deny knowingly using that substance.  He told us that he did not have answers to how he returned a positive drug test result.   He suspected that he was set up by an ex house mate, but he did not have any proof of that.  He said that another flatmate spoke about how it would be “funny” to see his reaction.

10. Of course, this is a different explanation from that which he gave to the recall Board. But it is no more plausible than the previous one, namely, that there must have been traces of methamphetamine on a drink bottle he used.

11. Generally Mr Ray and his counsel tended to minimise the offending.  We are very conscious that Mr Ray’s index offences were committed after he had used and abused substances, and that he held an IDU status for using substances in custody right up until the beginning of 2010. We, like the victims, whose written submissions were shown to Mr Ray, now query whether, with the benefit of hindsight, there was some truth to the suggestion, based on [Withheld], that Mr Ray was in fact involved in using or dealing drugs in custody.

12. During the brief time he was in the community, Mr Ray undertook three treatment sessions with a psychologist.  Since he has been back in prison he has had about six more, and he understands that these can continue on a fortnightly basis.  We would support that.

13. Mr Ray obviously needs help to deal with the pressure to use substances, and the challenges which will confront him in the community.  It seems to us that he is weak and easily led.  He needs assistance to stand up to others and to be open and honest with his supporters.

14. Mr Ray has a lot of work to do to make up for lost ground.

15.  He has lost the offer of employment.  His drug use was picked up when he undertook a pre-employment check before resuming work at [Withheld], where he worked for an extended period on Release to Work.  He now has to find other employment.

16. But that is for the future. First he has to reduce his security classification. Then he needs to obtain the approval of the multidisciplinary committee to resume reintegrative activities.

17. We envisage that this will be a slow process.  However, we do not think it will necessarily take longer than two years, or even that long.

18. Accordingly, while we have decided not to release Mr Ray today, we do not consider it appropriate or necessary to make a postponement order either.

19. Parole is declined.  Mr Ray’s next hearing will be during the month of February 2018.

20. For the purposes of Section 21A we identify completion of psychological intervention and a sustained period on Release to Work and participation in other available reintegrative activities as relevant activities which we expect to be completed before the next Board hearing.

21. An updated psychological assessment report is required for that hearing.

Hon. MA Frater
Panel Convenor