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RATIMA - Raymond Wahia - 27/11/2012

RATIMA, Raymond - 27/11/2012

 

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

 

Raymond Wahia RATIMA

 

Hearing:                                           
27 November 2012
at (withheld)  Prison

 

Members of the Board:                 
Hon. M A Frater – Panel Convenor

Judge P D Mahony

Dr J Skipworth

Ms K Snook

Mr R Lewis

 

Counsel:                                          
Mr M Starling

 

In Attendance:                                 
(withheld)

 

 DECISION OF THE BOARD

 

1.                  The Board saw Raymond Wahia Ratima, aged 45, together with his counsel, Mr Starling, to consider the dual issues of parole and postponement.

2.                  Mr Ratima is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for murdering two adults, a young person, and four children, three of them his own sons.  He also killed an unborn child and attempted to murder his father-in-law, all in circumstances which can only be described as a massacre.

3.                  During the 20 years he has spent in custody he has completed the programme run in what used to be known as the Violence Prevention Unit at (withheld)  Prison.  He has also participated in five years of intensive one-to-one counselling with a bicultural therapist and, during the past year, has successfully completed the three month intensive Drug Treatment Unit Programme to address his long-standing abuse of substances, both in the community and in custody. 

4.                  He received a positive report from the DTU.  It says that in it he gained tools and strategies so that he can now manage his feelings without using cannabis.  And, indeed, this is demonstrated by the fact that he has remained drug free since attaining an IDU 7 status in early 2010.  In the course of the DTU Programme he has also challenged and modified his previously held value and belief system.

5.                  The DTU Programme was run at (withheld)  Facility.  After completing it Mr Ratima returned to (withheld)  Men’s Prison.  He is currently living in (withheld)  and working in a trusted position as an administration block cleaner.  He is described as quiet, polite and compliant. 

6.                  As well as recommending that he undertake the DTU Programme the Board which saw Mr Ratima in December last year endorsed the recommendations of the psychologist including recommendations that:

“(a)      He be supported by his RRS case manager to initiate a muru process to take place prior to him returning to Self Care; and

(b)        That he be re-referred to a psychologist if there is any exacerbation of his trauma symptoms.”

7.                  The possibility of a muru, or culturally appropriate but perhaps rather more informal restorative justice meeting, with victims from his own whanau and then, possibly, with other victims, was first mooted in the Board’s decision in November 2008.  So far that has not happened.  Mr Ratima is obviously, and understandably, frustrated by the delays and apparent lack of support to enable that to happen.

8.                  The writer of the latest psychological report suggests that, before the muru process is explored, Mr Ratima engage in further one-to-one psychological treatment to revise and update his safety plan for violent offending, prepared some 10 years ago.  To that end, a referral has been made to the psychologist’s office and Mr Ratima remains on a priority waitlist.  Although a referral has been made to a (withheld)  requesting that she meet with Mr Ratima and assist him in that activity there have been no further developments in that regard. 

9.                  Looking to the future, Mr Ratima has applied to begin employment in the CIE industry ground maintenance crew, as part of his graduated reintegration plan.  He has also asked to be considered to participate in driver’s licence training and has been in contact with the (withheld)   concerning their community based rehabilitation programme.

10.              But he accepts that those interventions are some way off.  His current foci are on starting work with the psychologist and getting the muru process underway.

11.              Accordingly, he did not seek parole.  But through his counsel, Mr Starling, he opposed the making of a postponement order or, if it were made, an order for the maximum period of three years. 

12.              Mr Ratima has already been subject to two postponement orders of three years duration.  The first was made in 2003, the second in 2008. 

13.              Section 27(1) of the Parole Act states that:

“If the Board is satisfied that, in the absence of a significant change in the offender’s circumstances, an offender will not be suitable for release at the time when he or she is next due to be considered for parole, the Board may make a postponement order in relation to the offender.”

14.              Mr Starling submitted that in the circumstances outlined above, the Board could not be satisfied that, in a year’s time, Mr Ratima will not be suitable for release.

15.              In Kanohi v NZPB CRI-2003-409-000109, Panckhurst, J rejected a submission that the fact an offender had demonstrated a change of heart by participating in treatment programmes was, in itself, a significant change for the purposes of section 27.  He emphasised that the statutory focus is upon a change in the offender’s circumstances, saying that:

“This must mean a change in the assessment of him in terms of his suitability for release on parole.”

16.              And he agreed with counsel’s submission that a significant change in circumstances involves an assessment of what would be necessary to bridge the gap between an offender’s current presentation as a parole candidate and his presentation as a suitable candidate for parole.  He said that:

“Participation in courses of treatment is a step in the right direction, but ultimately it is a change in the offender’s risk profile which is determinative of the offender’s suitability for release.”

17.              We note that in 2008, when they made the last postponement order, the Board said that they did not see a restorative justice process, or muru, as moving towards a significant change within the meaning of the postponement provisions of the Act. 

18.              We do not take such a strong line.  We see real value in such a meeting or meetings in assisting Mr Ratima to cope with his emotions and perhaps to build support for his eventual reintegration.  And, of course, it may be that in the work that he does with a psychologist prior to the meeting, he will be able to discuss the process leading up to his horrendous offending – something which he has been unwilling or unable to do so far. 

19.              The psychological work may well take some time.  It needs to be taken very carefully and slowly.  It is essential that Mr Ratima builds a trusting relationship with a senior psychologist to address the fundamental issues surrounding his offending and his risk.

20.              The writer of the latest psychological report said that he should only be considered for release

“once there has been assurance over time of Mr Ratima’s learning of high risk situations and application of skills to manage these.  This testing would occur within a therapeutic unit, and on release to work and possibly in a muru process.”

21.              The Board is quite clear, on the evidence, that that careful testing needs to take place over an extended period.  In our view there is no possibility of it being completed within a year.  However we do accept that on a best case scenario, the requisite changes may be able to take place in less than the maximum available period for a postponement order.

22.              Accordingly, as well as declining parole, we make a two year postponement order.  This means that Mr Ratima will next be seen within two years of the date of this decision.

23.              In conclusion, we mention the position of the victims.  Mr Ratima was shown a letter from a representative of the (withheld) family; we also told him of the meeting which we had with a representative of the family of his victim, (withheld).  Both families strongly oppose Mr Ratima’s release and supported the making of a postponement order for three years.  Previously a representative of (withheld) whanau had expressed a willingness to meet with Mr Ratima, if only to tell him face to face of the trauma and great loss that his actions have caused her whanau.  When we met her this time she was more ambivalent.  Time has not assuaged their grief and she is naturally reluctant to be seen to be doing anything to assist him.  Her very understandable qualms underline the need, mentioned by an earlier Board, to ensure that before any type of restorative justice meeting takes place not only Mr Ratima is supported and prepared, but that the victims are also given appropriate support, both before and after the meeting, to deal with the multitude of emotions which will inevitably be raised.

 Hon. M A Frater

Panel Convenor

 

 

Review

 
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.