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TAUNOA - Christopher Hapimana Ben-Mark - 14/12/2015


Parole Hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002


Christopher Hapimana Ben-Mark TAUNOA

Hearing: 14 December 2015 via AVL from NZPB Head Office, (withheld) to (withheld) Prison

Members of the Board: 
       Hon. MA Frater – Panel Convenor 
       Mr N Trendle
       Assoc. Prof. P Brinded
       Mr A Shaw 

In attendance:  (withheld)


1. We have seen 44 year old Christopher Hapimana Ben-Mark Taunoa today in connection with parole. 

2. He is serving a life sentence of imprisonment having been found guilty at trial of the crime of murder.  He was sentenced on 2 May 1997 and became eligible to be considered for release on parole on 5 March 2006. 

3. At the outset of the hearing we were told that he has been offered a place at (withheld) sometime in January next year and that psychological support from Community Corrections would be available if he were paroled there. 

4. Notwithstanding that opportunity, for the reasons discussed below, we could not be satisfied that Mr Taunoa would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community if released on parole at this time and declined parole accordingly.

5. This is the 20th year that Mr Taunoa has spent in custody on this sentence. 

6. During this time he has completed the STURP programme which is a high intensity programme to address violent offending.  He did that in 2013 on his third attempt. 

7. He has also participated in reintegrative releases to (withheld) on two occasions, both in 2014. 

8. After participating in five escorted day paroles, he commenced what was then the standard 16 week temporary release period on 3 June 2014, but was returned to prison on 9 July for rule breaking behaviour and as a result of concerns about his management of money (which, of course, was one of the factors behind his index offending).

9. The second period of temporary release occurred between 18 August and 26 November 2014.  On that occasion the release was terminated after Mr Taunoa  “engaged in behaviour that was suggestive of ongoing anti social tendencies, with little insight into the possible consequences of his choices.”

10. Of particular concern was his involvement in issues which (withheld), who is living in (withheld) was experiencing.  He told us that he endeavoured to get (withheld) and another person together to discuss matters.  However, he did not tell his case officer what he had done. 

11. When he appeared before the Board on 4 February last, (withheld) were not willing to have him back. 

12. During the past 10 months Mr Taunoa has remained in (withheld), maintained a minimum security classification and worked in a trusted position as a cleaner in the gatehouse and the (withheld)  He has not incurred any misconducts and he has remained IDU free.

13. He has participated in a number of reintegrative outings for shopping, budgeting and to visit tertiary education institutes. 

14. He also suffered serious health issues which resulted in a period of hospitalisation.

15. However, despite all the assistance Mr Taunoa  has received over the years and the interventions he has undertaken, his deep seated personality traits remain.  The psychological report, written by (withheld), refers to his “poor self reflective ability and lack of insight.” 

16. (withheld) is also refers to continued themes of: Over involvement in the issues of others; poor frustration tolerance and sense of entitlement; a lack of transparency with staff; poor problem solving skills; and poor interpersonal conflict resolution skills.”

17. (withheld) noted that Mr Taunoa sought to return to (withheld) and recommended that before that happened there was a period when his behaviour was actively monitored by prison staff and that he receive feedback in order to increase his insight and, hopefully, adjust his behaviour accordingly. 

18. We talked with Mr Taunoa and his accompanying officer about his behaviour at (withheld) during the last year. It became apparent that he has been unable to desist from becoming involved in the affairs of others and has demonstrated, on a number of occasions, poor decision making.  While acknowledging the examples given, Mr Taunoa attempted to downplay them, saying that he likes people and likes helping people.  He said it makes him feel good.

19. Our concern, as always, is with risk.  At present we are not satisfied that Mr Taunoa has sufficient insight into his behaviour and attitudes with regard to others and the risks that his poor decision making entails.  In our view he needs further testing. 

20. Parole is declined.  Mr Taunoa’s next hearing will be in November 2016. 

21. A brief updated psychological report concerning any changes in his behaviour during the intervening period is required for that hearing. 


Hon. MA Frater
Panel Convenor