Vincent Angene SKEEN - 23/09/2016
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Vincent Angene SKEEN
Hearing: 23 September 2016 at (withheld) via video conference at New Zealand Parole Board Head Office Wellington
Members of the Board:
- Mr N Trendle – Panel Convenor
- Ms T Williams-Blyth
- Mr S Perry
- Ms W Taumaunu
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Vincent Angene Skeen, who is 18 years of age, is making his first appearance before the Board on a sentence of five years two months’ imprisonment following his conviction in August of this year for manslaughter. Mr Skeen spent 636 days on remand and his parole eligibility date has arisen barely a month after his sentence.
2. Mr Skeen had been drinking. He involved himself in a fight with his victim, Luke Tipene. Mr Skeen broke a bottle and swung the remnants of the bottle at his victim. He struck Mr Tipene in the neck with the bottle. Me Tipene suffered fatal injuries. Mr Skeen was 16 years old at the time.
3. In the brief time he has been in prison Mr Skeen has been identified as needing to attend drug and alcohol programmes. We understand today that he has been identified to attend the Drug Treatment Programme and his Principal Corrections Officer who accompanied him to the Board told us that he would be assessed shortly for that programme.
4. Prior to today’s hearing the Board met with family members of Mr Skeen’s victim. His mother told the Board that the level of violence which was inflicted on her son was such that Mr Skeen had to be seen as dangerous and a high risk. He should not be released. At this early point in his sentence he had done nothing to reduce that level of risk. Moreover, she was concerned that there had been no expression of remorse on Mr Skeen’s part. Finally, the victim’s mother indicated that she and her family had concerns for their safety having regard to what Mr Skeen had done and they did not wish him to be released into the Auckland area when he left prison.
5. Those concerns were conveyed to Mr Skeen in the course of the hearing. He said that both before and after the trial he told his lawyer he wanted to apologise and to write a letter to his victim’s family. He was told he should not do so. He said that he was sorry for what he had done and for the hurt and pain that he had put Mr Tipene’s family through. He acknowledged their views. He is committed to doing what he can to change.
6. The Board notes Mr Skeen’s motivation to attend the Drug Treatment Programme. We support his completion of that programme. Thereafter, the Board requires a psychological assessment. We need assistance as to other rehabilitation and reintegration needs that may be identified through a specialist assessment. In that regard Mr Skeen consented to the Psychologist accessing the CYF file referred to in the pre sentence report.
7. Parole today is declined. There is significant work for Mr Skeen to complete before the Board could consider that he met the statutory criteria for parole. He will be scheduled to return to the Board in nine months’ time, by 30 June 2017. The Board would be assisted then by the psychological report referred to, assessing the progress he made in the Drug Treatment Unit and making recommendations as to the pathway forward.