John Barlow released from prison

BY MATT CALMAN AND NATHAN BEAUMONT
Last updated 10:01 25/08/2010
MATT CALMAN/The Dominion Post

John Barlow, who was convicted of the 1994 murders of father and son Eugene, 68, and Gene Thomas, 30, arrives home.

John Barlow's release from prison
ROSS GIBLIN/The Dominion Post Zoom
HOME AT LAST: John Barlow outside his house

John Barlow leaves Rimutaka Prison

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Double murderer John Barlow has emerged from jail after more than 15 years, saying the experience has not changed him.

After his release this morning, a smiling Barlow continued to deny he gunned down two Wellington businessmen more than 16 years ago.

Looking greyer but in good spirits, Barlow was driven through the gates of Rimutaka Prison by his wife Angela at 7:30am this morning.

''I'm pleased to be leaving,'' he told reporters at the gates.

Barlow was driven to his Pukerua Bay home, where he again briefly spoke to reporters.

Barlow, who maintains his innocence, was convicted of the 1994 murders of father and son Eugene, 68, and Gene Thomas, 30, at his third trial in November 1995.

Outside his home, he was asked directly if he committed the crime.

''No I didn't,'' he said.

He said he planned to ''go home and relax'' after 15 years behind bars.

Barlow described prison as ''like being in retirement''.

He said ''I never had a problem motivating myself or keeping my head up.''

Prison was much harder on his family then him, he said.

Asked if he had a message for the Thomas family, Barlow said he was not allowed to communicate with them in any way.

Prison had not changed him, he said.

"I have always led a pretty disciplined life."

Gene and Eugene Thomas were found shot in their Wellington office in 1994.

Barlow had a meeting scheduled with the two Thomas men on the day of the murders and admitted seeing their bodies.

A $3 receipt from the Happy Valley landfill was found in his car by police, who later found a box of bullets they said matched those found at the murder scene, a gun they believed to be the murder weapon and a silencer.

Barlow admitted the weapons were his but maintained he was innocent of the murders.

In its decision to release Barlow after the Parole Board last week said Barlow had stayed free of misconduct and had made significant progress towards ''reintegration'' into the community.

He also told the board he no longer had an interest in guns, after faltering on the subject at an earlier hearing.

''As we have stated before, Mr Barlow is fortunate to have outstanding support from his family and wide circle of friends. His wife is in fulltime employment and can support them, and he is able to usefully occupy his time.''

''Given that, and the supervision which will be provided by Community Probation . . . we are satisfied that the point has now been reached that Mr Barlow can safely be released.''

Timeline

February 1994:
The bodies of Eugene Thomas, 68, and his son Gene Thomas, 30, are found shot execution-style in their office on The Terrace, Wellington.

November 1995:
John Barlow is convicted and sentenced to a non- parole prison term of 14 years at a third trial after two previous juries were unable to convict him.

2009:
An appeal to the Privy Council, which challenged FBI ballistics evidence from his third trial, fails.
The Privy Council said the FBI evidence was 'unscientific and untenable' but other evidence against him was 'overwhelming'.

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March 2010:
Barlow is denied parole for the third time.

August 18:
Parole Board decision to free Barlow.

August 25:
Barlow to be freed

- The Dominion Post

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