John Frederick ERICSON - 04/10/2016
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
John Frederick ERICSON
Hearing: 4 October 2016 at [Withheld]
Members of the Board:
- Mr J Thomson (Panel Convenor)
- Ms G Hughes
- Ms L Nathan
- Dr J Skipworth
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. John Frederick Ericson, aged 54, makes a further appearance before the Board on his life sentence imposed for the murder of his wife, Sandra Ericson. Mr Ericson became eligible for parole on 31 July 2009.
2. The last appearance before the Board was on 31 March 2016. At the time Mr Ericson was in a Self Care Unit and was working in a trusted position. He had been undertaking individual psychological treatment for some months. However, it seemed that there was more work to be completed.
3. The Board stated that: “It is important that a definitive assessment of risk be completed before a further decision on Mr Ericson’s release on parole is made. We ask that it be completed for the next hearing.”
4. Subsequently, there was an application by Mr Ericson for an early hearing. This was declined. In addition, there was an application for review of the s26 decision, which was similarly declined.
5. Since his last appearance before the Board Mr Ericson has been transferred from the Self Care Unit.
6. The Board has received a letter from the family of the victim. This had been provided to Mr Ericson to read, but not to retain. The statement in the letter makes it very clear that the family are opposed to release at any time. They believe that Mr Ericson has continued to deny the offending and are concerned for the safety of the wider community.
7. At the hearing today Mr Ericson was represented by counsel, [Withheld]. Counsel stated that his client was still working with a psychologist on a two weekly basis and that this could continue in the community. He also indicated that the required report had been completed by a psychologist. In addition, accommodation had been confirmed with the [Withheld].
8. In the meantime, it was suggested that Mr Ericson could undertake Release to Work before such a release took place.
9. The Board has the benefit of the recent psychologist’s assessment [Withheld]. Mr Ericson appeared to focus on continuing legal matters. There appeared to be inconsistencies in his self-report. It is noted that Mr Ericson completed the Short Motivational Programme in early October 2015 and began individual psychological treatment thereafter. This treatment continues and while initially focussing on developing a therapeutic relationship, it has now shifted to helping him gain insight into the murder offence.
10. Overall, Mr Ericson is seen by the psychologist as being at low-risk of general and violent offending. However, it is concluded that the seriousness of any future violence may be severe.
11. In view of the length of time Mr Ericson has been imprisoned an unstructured release is not recommended by the psychologist. The referral to the [Withheld] supported accommodation is seen as an appropriate option. The psychologist recommends that the current treatment should continue.
12. Mr Ericson received a positive oral report from the accompanying officer. It seems that he has caused no difficulties since his last appearance before the Board and he has continued to work [Withheld] since May this year.
13. The proposal for release for Mr Ericson is that he live at the [Withheld] supported accommodation. The date for availability of that address was confirmed by counsel as stated above. The Board has concerns about the fairly short period that Mr Ericson would receive support in the community, in view of the lengthy period he has spent in prison.
14. For the Board to release a prisoner it must be satisfied that he no longer poses an undue risk to the safety of the community. It must consider both the likelihood of further offending and the nature and seriousness of any likely subsequent offending. It is clear that the offence which Mr Ericson committed to bring him a sentence of life imprisonment was very serious. We are mindful that while the risk of further offending may a low possibility, it is of a potentially grave nature.
15. Accordingly, the Board is not brought to the view that Mr Ericson, if released into the community on the conditions of parole, would no longer pose an undue risk to the safety of the community. The release proposal is of insufficient duration to alleviate the concerns as to what will happen after he leaves the [Withheld] care.
16. In addition, the Board is of the view that the psychological treatment should be completed before release as this is looking at his offending behaviour and in so doing dealing with the nature and seriousness of any likely subsequent offending.
17. Parole is declined.
18. Mr Ericson will be seen again by the Board in the week beginning 1 May 2017. The Board suggests that a support meeting take place before that hearing. The meeting should be attended by all who will be involved in Mr Ericson’s reintegration into the community. This should include his supervising probation officer.
19. During the hearing there was reference to reports prepared at sentencing by [Withheld] . The Board initially did not have these to hand but they were located during the hearing. These are on Mr Ericson’s file.
Mr J Thomson