Recidivist killer driver due for release

UP FOR RELEASE: Gavin Maurice Hawthorn is to be released from prison next week after serving a 10-year service for manslaughter.
UP FOR RELEASE: Gavin Maurice Hawthorn is to be released from prison next week after serving a 10-year service for manslaughter.

A recidivist killer driver with a "chilling disregard for the law" will be released from prison next week after serving his 10-year sentence for manslaughter.

Gavin Maurice Hawthorn, 50, was jailed for 10 years in 2004 for the manslaughter of Lance Fryer in Wairarapa. Fryer was the fourth person Hawthorn killed on the roads, following another crash in 1989 which killed three others.

Hawthorn's record of offending dates back to 1979 and includes eight stints in prison.

The Parole Board decision, released today, said his criminal record - which includes burglary, theft, drugs, violence, disorderly behaviour and non-compliance - was "extensive and serious".

Parole Board panel conveyor Alan Ritchie wrote in his decision that Hawthorn had a "chilling disregard for the law".

Hawthorn is due for release on June 4, the last day he can legally be kept in prison.

Corrections had applied to the Parole Board for Hawthorn to be tagged with a GPS electronic bracelet for six months upon release, but the application was turned down because it would not be practical in stopping him reoffending behind the wheel.

Hawthorn will be released to live with his partner. He had said that if he was forced to wear a GPS bracelet, he would simply cut it off.

His lawyer told the board Hawthorn "deeply regretted" his offending. She acknowledged that the biggest risk upon her client's release would be drink-driving again, but "the GPS monitoring would not reduce that given that it would not distinguish who might be driving any vehicle or the form of transport, for example, public [transport]".

Having completed his 10-year sentence for Fryer's death, Hawthorn was now 10 years older and more mature, his lawyer told the board.

A prison officer said Hawthorn's behaviour in prison had not been problematic, and even praised him for intervening to stop an attack on an officer by another inmate.

The Parole Board is able to impose conditions for six months after a prisoner's release.

Special conditions imposed on Hawthorn include notes that he must not take drugs or alcohol, must attend a psychological assessment and counselling, only live at the address approved by the probation officer, not drive and own a vehicle, not have contact with his victims, and not enter Wairarapa without written approval from the probation officer.

But Gary Fryer, 68, the father of his most recent victim, believes that regardless of the conditions of release, it would only be a matter of time before the man who killed his son was back on the road, destroying another family.

"If he comes out now, it'll only be a matter of time ... he hasn't learned any lessons at all." he said.

"I'm just dreading the fact that when he does get out, [he'll think] 'Where's the closest car yard?'."

The Dominion Post