Anguish over baby killer's parole

Last updated 16:06 20/02/2013
CONVICTED: Elizabeth Mary Healy leaving court in January 1997.
Shae Hammond
HELPLESS VICTIM: Shae Hammond, who suffered a violent death in 1997. Her nanny Elizabeth Healy was subsequently convicted of murder.

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A nanny jailed for life for murdering a toddler in her care has been granted parole.

Elizabeth Healy will be released from Christchurch Women's Prison on March 6 after serving 15 years for killing toddler Shae Hammond in 1997. 

The Parole Board released its decision today following a hearing in Christchurch - Healy's third bid for parole in nine months.

Among the conditions of her release are not to enter Christchurch without prior written permission of her probation officer, and to have no contact with children under the age of 16 unless supervised by a pre-approved adult.

Shae's mother, Andrea Keats, was notified of Healy's impending release this morning and said she ''yelled, screamed and cried''.

Keats, 45, had asked the board to keep Healy behind bars until she admitted her guilt and showed signs of rehabilitation.

''It blows me away they can let someone out who has done that to a child and still denies it. I want the world to know she is out and warn them to stay away,'' Keats said. 

Healy still denies murdering Shae, as well as poisoning another baby by forcing her to eat food laden with excessive salt. 

Shae died in Christchurch Hospital from a severely fractured skull on January 5, 1997. 

Healy, a secret binge drinker, told police that she been drinking heavily and found Shae unresponsive in a cot the following morning with the back of her head bashed in.

The Parole Board noted assessments by psychologists showing that while it was unlikely Healy would ever admit guilt, her risk of violent recidivism was low. 

Healy's behaviour in prison had been ''variable'', with mental health concerns and substance abuse noted, but had stabilised since 2010, the board said.

She had been employed full-time at a Christchurch packaging company through a work to release programme since May 2011, where she was described as ''a valued employee with a high work ethic''.

Since July 2011, Healy had also been granted temporary leaves of increasing duration, times when Keats said she would ''hide'' at home for fear of seeing her in public.

Healy was denied parole in May last year because she wanted to be released into Christchurch. 

She had now found accommodation and established a church-based support network elsewhere in New Zealand, which Keats understood was in the Lower North Island.

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The name of the church group was withheld.

The special conditions imposed by the board will continue for five years from Healy's release date.

They include:

- Not to move from her approved address without the prior written approval of her probation officer.

- Attend both psychological and mental health and addictions assessments and complete any recommended treatments.

- Not to associate with anyone under 16 unless with an adult over the age of 20 who is pre-approved by her probation officer.

- Not to contact the victims or their families without the prior written approval of her probation officer- Not to possess or consume alcohol or illicit drugs.

- Not to enter Christchurch without the prior written approval of her probation officer.

Keats did not believe Healy would abide by the conditions, which allowed her to "walk the streets". 

''When she was on bail for the murder of my daughter, we still saw her driving around Christchurch with her son in the car,'' she said. 

The Parole Board scheduled a monitoring and compliance hearing for Healy in July.

- The Press

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