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MACDONALD - Ewen Kerry - 13/10/15


Parole hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002



Hearing: 13 October 2015  at (withheld)

Members of the Board: 
        Hon M A Frater (Panel Convenor)
        Ms L Campbell
        Mr L Comer
        Assoc. Prof. P Brinded

In Attendance: Mr S Fisher (New Zealand Parole Board)
Support Persons: (withheld)


1. Thirty five year old Ewen Kerry MacDonald is coming to the end of the sentence of five years imprisonment imposed in September 2012 after he entered guilty pleas to two charges of arson, three of intentional damage and one of theft of animals.  His Statutory Release Date is 6 April 2016.

2. The Board which saw him on 17 November last year was not satisfied that Mr MacDonald had addressed the deeper issues which underpinned his offending to the point where he no longer posed an undue risk to the safety of the community, and therefore declined parole.  In their view, he needed ongoing psychological intervention and support, especially as he transitions into the community.

3. At that time he had been working in the community on Release to Work for three weeks.  That continued until, as a result of a change in Departmental policy, he was brought inside the wire.

4. He is currently employed as a carpenter in the (withheld) construction yard.  While there he has taken the opportunity to gain further qualifications.  His instructors speak very highly of him.

5. He has not, however, been given access to further psychological treatment.

6. Accordingly, the focus for this Board was to ascertain what, if anything, has changed in the past 11 months which would satisfy us that the test in section 28(2) of the Parole Act 2002 has been met.

7. That section directs that the Board may only release an offender on parole:
…“if it is satisfied on reasonable grounds that [he]…will not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community or any person or class of persons within the term of the sentence, having regard to –
  a) The support and supervision available to [him] following release;
  b) The public interest in [his] reintegration…into society as a law abiding citizen.”

8. On the other hand, section 7(2)(a) provides that:
…“offenders must not be detained any longer than is consistent with the safety of the community”

9. In the event, we are satisfied that those tests can now be met.

10. The decision of the last Board came as a shock to Mr MacDonald.  It caused him to focus, as he had not done before, on the safety plan he developed with a psychologist some years ago, and to make a greater effort to understand personality traits and patterns of behaviour which increase his risk of re offending.  There is clear evidence that he has been endeavouring to change his behaviour, and to react to early warning signs that he is reverting to old behaviours.

11. He has sought other’s views and tried to reflect on the consequences of his actions on them.  He has asked for advice, which previously he found difficult to do, and he has practised letting things go rather than holding grudges and ruminating about perceived wrongs.  Importantly, he has also begun to share his feelings of frustration or sadness with others in prison and with members of his family. This increased openness has been confirmed by prison staff.

12. He has a strong group of supporters.  As well as family and friends, who have always been there for him, he has recently widened his group of professional supporters to include as well as the (withheld), a respected and experienced organisation assisting prisoners, both in prison and in the community.

13. Mr MacDonald has approved accommodation and employment and a sensible release plan.

14. At the beginning of last month his supporters met with his prospective Probation Officer and other Corrections staff, including the psychologist who prepared the latest assessment report for the Board. They discussed the mechanics of release and practical ways of assisting him to ensure that the community, and his victims in particular, are kept safe following his release, whether now, or at his Statutory Release Date.

15. Mr Macdonald has just over four months remaining on his sentence. Given the changes which he has made and the strength of his release plan, we are satisfied that he will not pose an undue risk if released now, subject to stringent conditions.

16. These conditions include electronic monitoring, a prohibition on entering the North Island, and a bar on possessing or using firearms.

17. We have declined to impose the proposed condition prohibiting him from having any contact with animals, unless under the direct supervision of an approved adult, on the basis that it is too widely drawn and will be well-nigh impossible to enforce. Nor does his proposed living arrangement require it.

18. Mr MacDonald will be released on parole on (actual date withheld) November 2015.  Thereafter he will be subject to the standard conditions set out in section 14 of the Parole Act 2002 and the following special conditions. These will continue for six months past his Statutory Release Date - the maximum available period.

19. The special conditions are:
  (1) To attend for a psychological assessment and attend and complete any treatment/counselling recommended by the psychological assessment to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer and treatment provider.
  (2) To attend any programmes/counselling directed by your Probation Officer to assist you in parenting responsibilities to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer.
  (3) Not to possess, own or use firearms, ammunition, or any other restricted weapon unless you have prior written approval from 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) Not to stay away overnight from your approved address without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer. The period overnight is defined as 22:00 - 06:00 hours. You are to be at your approved residence during this period.
  (6) To notify your Probation Officer prior to starting, terminating or changing your position or place of employment, including voluntary work.
  (7) Not to have contact or otherwise associate with any victim of your offending, directly or indirectly, without the prior written consent of your Probation Officer.
  (8) Not to communicate or associate with co offender, Callum Boe, unless you have the prior written consent of your Probation Officer.
  (9) To submit to electronic monitoring in the form of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology as directed by a Probation Officer in order to monitor your compliance with any condition(s) relating to your whereabouts.
  (10) Not to enter the North Island of New Zealand unless you have the prior written consent of your Probation Officer.


Hon M A Frater
Panel Convenor