Man who killed police officer denied parole

Last updated 13:31 29/07/2013

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Cop killer Andrew Popo has been denied parole at his first attempt and will remain in jail for at least another year.

Popo, a Mongrel Mob member, was convicted of running down 52-year-old Sergeant Derek Wootton in 2008 as the policeman laid down roadspikes.

Popo drove a Honda Prelude into the 52-year-old Porirua police sergeant in Dimock St, Titahi Bay early on July 11, 2008, killing him instantly.

He has a history of criminal offending that included as many as 83 previous convictions dating back to 1991.

He was sentenced in 2009 to eight years, nine months' jail for ''manslaughter, injuring, and other serious offending''. His statutory release date is April 12, 2017.

The Parole Board declined his application for release on July 18, as his prison conduct ''has been uneven''. The board's decision was released today.

''He has twice had an IDU [identified drug user] status in the last 18 months and he has also accumulated several other misconducts,'' the board's decision said. 

''Though he is affiliated with the Mongrel Mob, he is reported as not actively associating with gang members. His security classification has recently reduced from low-medium to low.''

A psychological assessment cast Popo as a moderate risk of general re-offending.

On July 11, prior to killing Mr Wootton, Popo punched and kicked a teen in the head and body, before making off with his car. A police chase ensued and Popo refused to stop. He had only been out of jail for three months at that time.

''In an endeavour to stop the vehicle, Sergeant Wootton, his second victim, was in the process of deploying road spikes when Mr Popo drove towards him,'' the board's decision stated. 

''Sergeant Wootton tried to take evasive action but was struck by Mr Popo's car and was killed instantly. The seriousness of Mr Popo's offending was marked by the sentencing judge in imposing a minimum period of imprisonment of five years.''

Mr Wootton's family wrote to the board, outlining that Mr Wootton was ''a police officer of impeccable character, a community man who was held in high standing''. His death had had a huge impact on his family, they said.  

Popo had little to say at his hearing, which the board found ''concerning''. 

''Mr Popo has some way to go before the board could have confidence that it would be safe to consider his release to the community. The board told him that we expect him to honour his commitment to engage on the programmes he is scheduled to attend... Mr Popo will be scheduled to be seen again in around 12 months.''

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- The Dominion Post

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