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MARSH - Gresham Kirsten Leith - 30/11/2011

Parole hearing
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Gresham Kirsten Leith MARSH

30 November 2011
at Christchurch Men’s Prison

Members of the Board:
Hon. M A Frater
Judge D Holderness
Dr J Skipworth
Mr R Wilson
Ms L Nathan

Ms K Shore for Department of Corrections

Support Persons:


Gresham Kirsten Leith Marsh, who is 39 years of age, is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for murdering Mr and Mrs Harrison in 1994.
As the Board has done on each occasion the Board met with the daughter and son-in-law of Mr Marsh’s victims prior to the hearing.  Their position has not changed.  They continue to mourn the loss of their parents and the dreadful circumstances of their deaths.  They, and members of Mr Marsh’s adoptive family say he should never be released.  They are concerned for the safety of others. 

Mr Marsh understands their position.  He says that he has changed and asked that they accept that. 

What was evident from Mr Marsh’s presentation today was his increased maturity and the commitment that he has made to working in the community.

Since the last Board hearing he has been working on a local dairy farm on release to work.  He works up to six days a week between 4.30am and 7.00pm.  His employer, who was present today, spoke highly not only of his work ethic but also of the appropriate way that he fitted in with his family and with other employees.

Mr Marsh continues to reside in the Self Care Units and, since the last hearing, has achieved a minimum security classification.  Of course, it was this which enabled him to be released on release to work.

A stumbling block for Mr Marsh this year has been the inability to obtain approval for temporary releases.  While he has enjoyed four escorted reintegrative outings to (Withheld), as well as continuing to engage in regular shopping expeditions for his Unit, he has been unable to spend time with his sponsors.  There have been difficulties about that which we discussed today.  Mr and Mrs (Withheld)  said that they are committed to supporting Mr Marsh and, if necessary, will relinquish their roles as prison visitors in order to support him on temporary releases.

Mr Marsh continues to be assessed as posing a moderate to high risk of general and violent reoffending.  This will only be reduced over time as he continues to remain incident free and to engage successfully with the community. 

Because of the long time that he has been in custody and, of course, the nature of his index offending and his history of offending, it is essential that his reintegration continues to be taken slowly and carefully and that he has a strong release plan.  In our view, his current plan is weak.  For someone with his history the proposed accommodation with (Withheld)  is inadequate.  It is not long enough and we do not think it is appropriate that he live by himself.  There are also questions about his ability to continue with his present employment if he lives in (Withheld).  In any event he has made it quite clear that he does not want to work with cows forever.  If that is so he needs to put forward a realistic alternative employment proposal.  These issues need to be worked through.

Parole is declined today.  Mr Marsh will be scheduled to be seen again in the normal statutory cycle.  We make no promises as to the outcome at that stage.  However, an updated psychological report assessing his progress, his risk, and the strength of his release plan is required for that hearing.  It would also be useful to have a report covering partial or full residential restrictions so that all options are open.

Hon. M A Frater
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.