Dean Wickliffe to be freed from jail

Last updated 13:37 29/04/2011
Dean Wickliffe
PHIL DOYLE/Sunday Star-Times
Dean Wickliffe

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High-profile killer Dean Wickliffe underwent a dramatic change after caring for his terminally ill partner, and no longer poses an "undue risk", the Parole Board says.

Wickliffe, notorious as the only New Zealander to twice escape the maximum security prison at Paremoremo, will be released from jail next month.

The 62-year-old has spent 30 years behind bars - first jailed for the death of Wellington jeweller Paul Miet during an armed robbery in 1972.

He has been released and recalled to jail on several occasions, the last in 2010 for weapons and drugs charges.

In its decision released today, the Parole Board acknowledged Wickliffe had a significant career of crime but said  "more recently ... things have changed for him".

"One of those dramatic changes was his caring for his partner during her long terminal illness and eventual death," it said.

Wickliffe had complied with conditions when he was released on parole to care for breast cancer sufferer Dionne Chapman, the board said.

However Chapman died alone while Wickliffe was in jail awaiting sentencing on drugs and weapons charges in April last year.

"He is still affected emotionally by that," the board said.

It said Wickliffe's experience with Chapman had resulted in him now being empathetic, and understanding the concerns and needs of others.

When he is released, Wickliffe will live at his own home with people who have no history of conviction who can offer a stable environment.

He will have a job - his employer was present at the parole hearing.

The Board said Wickliffe "therefore [would have] enough money to live on properly pro-social support and things to occupy his mind and attention.

"We have decided that the community of New Zealand would not be at an undue risk if he is released on parole," the board's decision read.

Special release conditions will continue for five years from his date of release, with the exception of two conditions which will also continue for life. 

Those special conditions are that Wickliffe not possess or consume alcohol or illicit drugs and that he not possess firearms at any time.

HISTORY OF A KILLER

Wickliffe was first jailed for the murder of Wellington jeweller Paul Miet during an armed robbery in 1972. The charge was reduced to manslaughter 12 years later at a re-trial.

In 1976, Wickliffe was the first prisoner to escape from Paremoremo. The escape lasted just minutes. As the alarm was being raised, the prison-guard rugby team was exiting the prison.

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Wickliffe tried to swim across an estuary to escape but the tide was out and he got stuck in the mudflats.

He was paroled in 1987, but reoffended and was recalled to prison.

Wickliffe escaped Paremoremo again and was at large for a month in 1991.

Released in 1995, Wickliffe was later found guilty of murdering Bay of Plenty man Richard Bluett, but that conviction was quashed in 1998 and he was acquitted on retrial.

His latest imprisonment was for drugs and weapons charges dating from last year.

Wickliffe was found with 250ml of the drug known as Fantasy G during a raid of his home in 2008.

At a separate court appearance in 2010, Wickliffe pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of a loaded Colt revolver which was also found at his house during the raid.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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