Hate-crime killer to be released from prison

SHANE COWLISHAW
Last updated 05:00 27/05/2013
Jason Meads
PHIL READ/Fairfax NZ
JASON MEADS: The unemployed Wellington man murdered 14-year-old Jeff Whittington in the city in 1999.
Jeff Whittington
JEFF WHITTINGTON: The 14-year-old Wellington boy was found lying battered in a puddle at 4.40am in central Wellington on May 8, 1999. He died the next day.

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Hate-crime killer Jason Morris Meads will be freed from jail tomorrow after being recalled for violating his parole.

Meads and Stephen James Smith were found guilty of murdering 14-year-old Wellingtonian Jeff Whittington in 1999.

After 11 years in jail, Meads was freed in 2011, but in February was recalled after he was charged with threatening to kill a woman.

The charge was dropped by police, but Meads has remained locked up while awaiting a Parole Board hearing.

Last year he narrowly avoided being recalled to prison after he was caught associating with a known drug user - a breach of his parole conditions.

In its decision published last week, the board said Meads' recall followed the breakup of a relationship that he entered into in December.

A 20-year-old woman, whom he had met a few times, "arrived at his address" after having to leave her previous home, and Meads agreed to provide her with accommodation.

After a heated argument, Meads was arrested and charged with threatening to kill, but the charge was withdrawn after the woman recanted her allegations.

Board convener Judge David Holderness said Meads admitted he had entered into the relationship without thought to his status as a life parolee.

"The board received assurances from Mr Meads that he has learnt from this experience and the board can only hope that that is, indeed, the position."

Meads had a high risk of reoffending in a violent manner, but had solid support in the community and the board was satisfied the risk could be managed with the use of special conditions.

The killing of Whittington was so shocking that a play was written about it. He was found lying battered in central Wellington at 4.40am. Shoe and boot marks could be seen on his skin.

He had suffered severe brain damage and a ruptured bowel, and died in hospital the next day.

Meads, then 25, and Smith had met Whittington - who had dyed purple hair, wore purple nail polish and had pierced ears - about 4am.

A witness at the trial said they later boasted they had beaten a "faggot" and left him for dead.

Contact Shane Cowlishaw
Employment and justice reporter
Email: shane.cowlishaw@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @scowlishaw

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