Axe-killer John Ericson denied parole after 16 years in prison
A man who killed his wife with a hatchet while she slept has been denied parole.
Blenheim man John Frederick Ericson's bid for freedom after 16 years behind bars was quashed by the parole board.
On July 31, 1999, Ericson struck his wife Sandra 22 times in the back of the head with a hatchet while she slept, then called police to confess to the killing.
The father of two was sentenced to life imprisonment, and became eligible for parole on July 31, 2009.
In 2007, Ericson fled from a work party at Wellington Prison, sparking a massive man hunt in the capital city.
He handed himself in to police at the Wellington ferry terminal two days later and was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment to be served concurrently to his life sentence.
At the latest hearing, the board asked for further assessment to be made about the 54-year-old's chance of reoffending.
"It is important that a definitive assessment of risk be completed before a further decision on Mr Ericson's release on parole is made," the board's decision said.
They suggested psychological treatment Ericson was undergoing in prison be completed there, rather than have it continue if released.
A letter from the family of Ericson's wife said they opposed his release and had concerns for the safety of the wider community.
Psychological assessments suggested the chance of Ericson reoffending were low, but if he did it would be serious.
"The offence which Mr Ericson committed to bring him a sentence of life imprisonment was very serious," the board said.
"We are mindful that while the risk of further offending may be a low possibility, it is of a potentially grave nature."
During his trial in 2000, counsel Philip Hall said Ericson had no recollection of the attack and was deeply troubled by the incident.
Ericson would appear before the board again in May 2017.