'I want to prove I can be trusted'

DENIED PAROLE: Ewen Macdonald has failed in his bid to get an early release from prison.
DENIED PAROLE: Ewen Macdonald has failed in his bid to get an early release from prison.

Ewen Macdonald was denied parole after speaking of his desire to return to being a "law-abiding citizen". Jimmy Ellingham reports.

After the Parole Board told Ewen Macdonald he will be spending at least another 11 months behind bars, he quietly nodded his head and moved out of the small Manawatu Prison room where he was quizzed for an hour by the three board members.

He showed no emotion, something he said was part of his character.

"I haven't been drawn to tears but I don't dwell on things. I've just assessed what's happened.

"I just try and make the best of a bad situation and look to the future," he said.

Parole hearings are very different to court sittings - inquisitive and less formal.

Macdonald sat facing the three board members - Justice Warwick Gendall, Neville Trendle and Rhonda Pritchard - wearing a green Manawatu Prison T-shirt, shorts and jandals.

Behind him sat his parents, Kerry and Marlene, with whom he exchanged a hug as he waited for the hearing to begin.

For the first 40 minutes or so, Macdonald was grilled by Mr Trendle about his offending.

Why had he poached deer from Colyton farmer Craig Hocken in December 2006?

"That was just to support my co-offender [Callum Boe]. He put the idea to me. He was keen to get to Mr Hocken's stags so I agreed and went along with the idea."

He said he and Boe would hunt illegally on Graham Sexton's Himatangi property - "cos we could".

But Mr Sexton found out. He had a meeting with Macdonald and had said the hunting would be forgotten.

"Shortly after the meeting, our names were all round the hunting fraternity. He'd broken his deal with us, I guess."

So Macdonald and Boe emptied his milk vat.

On the same August 2007 night, Macdonald and Boe also killed 19 calves on the Foxton property of Paul Barber, Mr Sexton's neighbour.

Some calves didn't die straight away and Kylee Guy's family wondered if that had been deliberate, but Macdonald denied that, saying he didn't realise some had lived.

Mr Barber was targeted because Macdonald and Boe had parked a vehicle on his property and he told the police.

"There was no rhyme nor reason, it was just a stupid act of revenge."

A few months later in March 2008 Mr Sexton's 110-year-old whare was burnt to the ground.

Macdonald said this was another revenge attack after Mr Sexton had given Boe a "stripping down" at a birthday party, forcing Boe to go home.

"My co-offender felt hard done-by and wanted to inflict some more revenge on them."

Later that year, the pair burnt down an old house on the Guy property.

"I'm not sure where the idea came from but we decided that we'd set it alight," he said.

"There was no revenge. It wasn't getting at Scott or Kylee at that stage. It was just a stupid act."

Finally, Macdonald and Boe damaged the Guys' new house.

"That was revenge. I was feeling unhappy with the farm and the working situation. That was solely my idea."

About that time threatening letters were said to appear in Kylee Guy's letterbox.

Macdonald denied writing these.

"There's been no proof throughout the whole [murder] trial. I've seen no proof of their existence."

Mr Trendle noted that Macdonald had written a letter to the board. In it, and during the hearing, Macdonald seemed to be attributing responsibility to Boe.

"I took responsibility for the last action of the house," Macdonald said.

"The stags were his idea, but the torching of the house, that was a joint idea."

After the final crime, Macdonald said he wanted to make amends.

Mr Trendle asked why that didn't include telling the victims.

"I guess that's one view," Macdonald said.

"My view was to put things right [and] to sort myself out. I didn't feel at the time it would be right to admit my guilt. I thought I could put it behind me - it would be in the past."

When asked what motivated the offending, Macdonald said he was under a lot of stress and was immature.

His crimes had cost his family members' trust and it was against his "own core values of dignity and character".

"I want to get back on my feet and prove to the community that I can be trusted again. I want to build that trust again and earn the respect back from my peers and carry on where I left off prior to my arrest as being a law-abiding citizen, a good father and a good employee."

The Manawatu Standard