Violent criminal Tasered on day of release
It's thought to be the briefest prison release in New Zealand history: a dangerous criminal was arrested only three hours after he walked free from jail.
Maximum security prisoner George Whichman, 23, who has affiliations with the Killer Beez gang, was Tasered by police after he breached his release conditions in South Auckland about 12.30pm last Wednesday.
Only three hours earlier he had been freed from Auckland Prison. He was fitted with a GPS bracelet to monitor his movements and ensure public safety.
He was tracked by Corrections Department staff, who called police when he travelled south of a defined boundary. He was arrested at a home in Manurewa.
Whichman faced four charges of breaching his release conditions when he appeared in Waitakere District Court after the incident. He was remanded in custody to appear again next week, when it is expected he will apply for bail.
Parole Board decisions given to The Dominion Post label Whichman an "angry young man" and an "extremely high risk" to society.
He had spent time in 23-hour cell confinement because of serious misbehaviour and was handcuffed during a November parole hearing because prison staff were "anxious about his state of mind and his unpredictability".
The board did not want to free him, but had to because he had served his sentence. The board is required by law to impose release conditions for at least six months on all freed prisoners.
"We are fearful that he will act angrily in the community because he already has some 11 convictions for violent offences," the board said. "We just hope that some unsuspecting member of the public does not fall victim to his further violence."
At the time of his release, Whichman had served a sentence of four years and three months for offences including receiving stolen goods, burglary, aggravated assault, and possession of cannabis for supply.
During his time in jail, he assaulted a prison guard because he was smiling while a psychologist was trying to address emotional issues.
In his cell, Corrections staff found a broom handle with a nail stuck in one end, hidden between two mattresses.
Whichman said the broom had been broken while he was cleaning and he chose to keep a piece for carving, the Parole Board decision said. He also lit a fire on the landing outside his cell while drunk. A bottle of whisky was found in his desk drawer.
The decision said Whichman was concerned about being monitored by GPS because "he was not going to be able to carry out any sort of private life without snooping by the department".
As part of his release conditions, the board ordered that he be fitted with the technology to keep the community safe, but warned Corrections it "did not provide a licence . . . for wholesale prying without limit in the life of an offender".
A Corrections spokeswoman declined to talk yesterday about the incident, but said there were 34 offenders monitored by GPS. The technology was introduced in August last year and is worn by sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson.
It is understood four offenders have breached the conditions of their release while being monitored by GPS.
The technology had contributed significantly to public safety by providing information about where offenders were, how long it took them to get there, and the routes they took, the spokeswoman said.
Corrections Minister Anne Tolley said yesterday that she hoped to increase the number of offenders monitored by GPS to 200 by the end of the year.
"Without GPS, there is always a risk that an offender can disappear, spend months on the run and endanger lives."
- © Fairfax NZ News