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CHURCHILL - Robin Nigel - 01/09/10

Parole hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002


01 September 2010
at (Withheld) Prison

Members of the Board:
Judge DJ Carruthers
Judge RM Kean
Judge M Lee
Dr J Skipworth
Mr R Lewis
Ms J Donaldson

Mr S Berry

Support Persons:


Robin Nigel Churchill, aged now 47, is beginning the 18th year of his sentence.  He was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder in 1994.

We began the discussions we have had with him today by letting him know the views of the family of his victims.  Those views have not altered.  They are concerned about whether he has made any changes to his thinking and his behaviour, whether those changes are genuine, whether he is truly remorseful and sorrowful about what he did and whether he can ever be safe to be released without causing danger and concern to others.

He understands those messages.  He has had them before.

Today we see him for parole.  He is accompanied by (Withheld) and an old friend who continue to demonstrate consistent support.

As usual we have had a lengthy discussion with Mr Churchill who has canvassed all the issues which are current and has responded, of course, to the questions asked of him.

The latest psychological report assesses him as being at moderate risk of reoffending.  He has a high score on the PCL SV measure.  There is as usual a comment about the way in which he minimises his personal responsibility about the barriers to significant change and concerns in general about whether his risk of reoffending can ever be adequately treated.

Over the period that he has been in prison he has had some 30 incidents and misconducts.  He has explanations for them all including explanations for the very serious assault for which he was further convicted whilst in prison. 

There are comments about the lack of trust which the prison authorities have in him.  He thinks this is part of, if not orchestrated, a very active campaign to undermine his release.  An example of that is the way in which last time the Board recommended that he have the release to work opportunity.  They have been supported by his PCO but not agreed to by prison management.  It is clear that prison management generally do not trust him and do not feel that it would be safe for the community if he were to be released in that way for working purposes.

That is a pity in terms of testing Mr Churchill but it can be easily understood in terms of the discussions we have had today.  Mr Churchill seems to take no personal responsibility for anything that happens.  He continues to have easy explanations for everything which is adverse. 

A further example of that is (Withheld).  He has been having day releases to that very well known and credible programme.  He says those went very well.  He did two of them.  Unfortunately, he said because of victim locality he is not able to continue that.  We are not confident about the locality issue but we understand it is for others to make that decision.  The ability to have him tested at (Withheld) seemed like a sensible project.  It may need to be revisited.  His alternatives today seem to be too slight to us to adequately manage his assessed risk.

We are not brought to a stage today where we are satisfied that he would not be an undue risk to the safety of the community.  His singular ability to minimise his personal responsibility continues to concern us greatly.  We are not sure how he can overcome it.  One way is, of course, by being tested in different ways.  Both prison authorities and he needs to think about the ways in which that might happen.  He talks about the number of outings he has had with no problems.  It is clear, however, that a number of those have been escorted and no real challenge to him.

The way in which he can satisfy us and others about the way in which he can be trusted and the way in which he can be tested and show responsibility is not for us to chart.  We are not his sentence planners.  We leave it to the psychologists and prison authorities to consider how he can be tested in other circumstances.  It is enough in discharge of our responsibilities to say that we are not satisfied that he can be safely released and he will not be.

Parole declined.

Judge DJ Carruthers
Panel Convenor


•    You may apply for a review of the Board’s decision under section 67(1).  The only grounds under which you may make an application for review are that the Board, in making its decision:

a)    Failed to comply with procedures in the Parole Act 2002; or
b)    Made an error of law; or
c)    Failed to comply with Board policy resulting in unfairness to the offender; or
d)    Based its decision on erroneous or irrelevant information that was material to the decision reached; or
e)    Acted without jurisdiction.

•    To apply for a review you must write to the Board within 28 days of its decision stating which of the above ground(s) you consider to be relevant in your case and giving reasons why you believe that ground(s) applies.
•    Reviews are considered on the papers only.  There is no hearing in respect of your Review Application.