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STONE - Stephen Ralph - 05/12/2017

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Stephen Ralph STONE

Hearing: 5 December 2017

at [withheld] via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Head Office Wellington

Members of the Board:

  • Hon J W Gendall QC – Panel Convenor
  • Ms P Rose
  • Assoc Prof. P Brinded
  • Mr J Thomson

Counsel: [withheld]

In Attendance: [withheld] – Corrections Psychologist

Support Persons:

  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]

DECISION OF THE BOARD

  1. Stephen Stone was sentenced on 26 March 1999 to life imprisonment and had a parole eligibility date of 21 January 2008.  His index offending occurred when he was aged 19.  It involved murder committed on 21 August 1989, rape on 26 August 1989 and a second murder on 26 August 1989.  He escaped detection of these crimes for about 10 years.
  2. Mr Stone was last seen by the Board on 27 January 2015.  A postponement order for three years was then made, which naturally, commenced the previous year. He was seen by the Board today when, through his counsel, parole is not sought.
  3. Mr Stone had completed the Violence Prevention Unit but the advice before the Board is that he has no treatment gains.  He initially acknowledged his offending.  But now denies all elements of the two murders and the rape.  He has a positive cannabis test in August 2017.  When he is removed from the identified drug user (IDU) status he will be returned to self-care.
  4. The psychological report notes that Mr Stone has a high RoC*RoI of 0.74681, with a history of 70 convictions from the age of 14.  It states that he continues to deny violent and sexual offending and expresses a belief that the psychologists are not accurately reporting on him.  The psychologist says that the index crimes were admitted solely to further a release.  The opinion is expressed that he had displayed criminal versatility with escalation of risk up until his index offending.
  5. The psychologist says (in para 29):

“During the current assessment Mr Stone again focused on obstacles to his reintegration process rather than relating the content of any rehabilitative treatment he has undergone. He indicated willingness to undergo further individual treatment despite his lack of treatment recall. He did not demonstrate motivation to repeat the STURP unless he got written assurances that it would further his release and create more opportunities for reintegration. This casts doubt on Mr Stone’s willingness and ability to benefit from any treatment until he has first taken full responsibility for his offending and, secondly, demonstrated a significant change in developing intrinsic motivation to engage in recommended intensive psychological treatment at a STURP.”

  1. [withheld], on behalf of Mr Stone, submitted to the Board that there was an “impasse” because Mr Stone was consistently declined applications for Guided Release, Release to Work, and other reintegration activities.  She said that it was inappropriate to require him to undertake Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme (STURP) when he could not be admitted to it because he denied his offending.  She said that Mr Stone could not move forward unless he “received help from the Parole Board”, and invited the Board to specify a relevant activity under s 21A.
  2. The difficulty with counsel’s proposition is that the activity the Board would specify, would be that recommended by the psychologist, namely, intensive psychological treatment at a STURP, and that is because Mr Stone has had insufficient treatment for his two crimes of murder and the sexual crime of rape.
  3. Mr Stone’s rehabilitation phase is yet to be completed, although his pathway can be advanced whilst he is in Self Care.  Mr Stone’s rehabilitation treatment remains incomplete, and it is a matter for him and prison management to determine what activities are necessary for him to successfully complete before he moves into the reintegration phase.  As the Board said in (para 12) of its decision of 27 January 2015:

“We agree that Mr Stone should [not] be precluded from engaging in further rehabilitation or reintegration interventions….if otherwise appropriate. However, decisions about what he does and when are management matters for the prison authorities, not the Board.”

  1. We regard it as premature at this stage to exercise our discretion under s21A(b) to specify relevant activities (if any).
  2. Parole is declined as Mr Stone is an undue risk to the safety of the community.  He will be seen again in two years’ time, that is, in the month of November 2019, in any event before 30 November.

Hon J W Gendall QC
Panel Convenor