MACDONALD, Ewen Kerry -17/11/14
Under Section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing 17 November 2014 at (withheld)
Members of the Board:
Hon M A Frater – Panel Convenor
Mr J Thomson
Assoc. Professor P Brinded
Ms S Nahr (media)
Mr J Galurszka (media)
Ms J Turner (NZPB)
Decision of the Board
1. Ewen Kerry MacDonald, aged 33, is serving a total sentence of five years imprisonment, having pleaded guilty to offences committed between December 2006 and January 2009 – one charge of theft, three of intentional damage and two of arson. His sentence ends on 6 April 2016.
2. Mr MacDonald’s last parole hearing was on 25 November 2013. In deciding to decline parole, the Board was greatly assisted by the comprehensive report prepared by forensic psychiatrist, (withheld). He concluded that:-
(a) Mr MacDonald has a ‘significant personality disturbance.’
(b) Assessments by Departmental psychologists, using standard risk assessment tools, probably underestimate his risk.
(c) Although he had engaged in psychological counselling, this had not addressed the deeper factors underpinning his index offending.
(d) His particular personality traits are resistant to change and are unlikely to change with brief therapeutic intervention.
3. In most respects little has changed for Mr MacDonald in the past year.
4. He has maintained his minimum security classification, has not been mentioned in any incident reports, and is IDU free. He is said to be “polite and compliant” and not to pose any “management or security issues”. He has continued to be housed at Rolleston Prison and, until recently, was working in the community gang.
5. His release plan is essentially the same. It is to live with (withheld) in (withheld) to work with an employer he has come to know while working in the community. His parents, as always, remain supportive and are committed to assisting him both immediately following release and on an ongoing basis, particularly to maintain contact with his children. He also has support of (withheld), people from (withheld), and others living outside the Canterbury area, who have sent letters of support. The difference between this year’s and last year’s plan is that the current one is more detailed. It includes stringent release conditions which Mr MacDonald is willing to be subject to.
6. Of more significance is the fact that Mr MacDonald is now participating in the Release to Work scheme. That started some three weeks ago. He is working six days a week, 6.30 am to 6.00 pm. His sponsor collects him from the prison and returns him each day. He is not wearing a bracelet. It was not deemed necessary.
7. Another development is that Mr MacDonald and his former wife have signed a consent agreement concerning his contact with their children, which has been incorporated into a Family Court parenting order.
8. But this does not mean he is ready for release. In our view, his risk remains undue.
9. Mr MacDonald has not yet addressed the personality factors which (withheld) considered contributed to his risk. And he accepts that.
10. The Psychologist who wrote the most recent report for the Board recommended a further brief period of individual psychological treatment to help Mr MacDonald understand those traits and to develop strategies to moderate their effect on his behaviour. While we agree, we doubt that the requisite personality change can be effected in four to six sessions, as suggested. In our view, the psychological intervention and support should be ongoing, especially as Mr MacDonald transitions into the community.
11. Parole is declined. Mr MacDonald will be scheduled to be seen again in accordance with the statutory cycle.
Hon M A Frater