Killer Dean Wickliffe to be freed after writing autobiography, losing partner
Convicted killer Dean Wickliffe has penned an autobiography, and will be released from prison this month thanks partly to the therapeutic benefits of writing.
Wickliffe was found guilty in 1972 of killing jeweller Paul Miet in an armed robbery. He earned further infamy after being the only person to successfully escape from Paremoremo prison - twice.
The murder charge was later reduced to manslaughter but his life had been peppered with parole violations and recalls to prison for crimes including drug offences.
Wickliffe, who turns 69 this month, sought parole for the sixth time a fortnight ago, and the Parole Board agreed he was ready for life outside jail.
Wickliffe got psychological counselling but last year was deemed in need of further reintegration.
But this month the board said a psychologist found Wickliffe had made progress with his ability to tolerate or manage frustration.
The death of his partner was a major turning point for Wickliffe, the board found, making him realise he needed to take stock.
"...We accept that Mr Wickliffe has had enough of prison. He said that he has nothing in common with the other men in prison. Nor does he have anything in common with his own past."
In 2009, he told the Sunday News that the death of his partner Dionne Chapman was his greatest fear. Chapman had cancer and has since died.
Wickliffe had three "apparently successful job interviews" but was unable to find work in the community.
The board said Wickliffe agreed with suggestions "that his notoriety is against him."
Wickliffe apparently found writing an autobiography to have been therapeutic.
"It has caused him to review his life and acknowledge how he has wasted it. He wants a different retirement."
According to the board, the treating psychologist described Wickliffe as "open and reflective."
Wickliffe – whose full name is Dean Hugh Te Kahu William Wickliffe – told the board he wanted to live with some old friends.
The board said it was satisfied the location Wickliffe suggested was the safest place for him, and he would not pose an undue risk if released there, subject to appropriate conditions.
The board saw no cause for electronic monitoring but suggested a curfew for the first three months.
Wickliffe was also ordered to abide by several special conditions expected to last five years.
He was banned from drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs or psychoactive substances.
Until August 23, he must also comply with a curfew running from 8pm to 6am.
He was told not to associate with Andrew Reid, an old friend and former co-offender, without a probation officer's approval.
Wickliffe was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Miet in Wellington.
In 1986, the Court of Appeal said that charge should be changed to manslaughter - but ruled the life sentence should stay.
Wickliffe was first released on parole in 1987 but was recalled five times.
His crimes included aggravated robbery, escaping, kidnapping, driving with excess breath alcohol and possessing methamphetamine for supply.
Wickliffe was described as highly intelligent. "I always had a sharp mind, I just had nothing in it," he told the Sunday News in 2009.
Of Maori, Scottish and Irish origins, he quipped: "I think my Celtic blood leads my Maori blood astray."
And discussing a prison hunger strike, Wickliffe said he once saw himself as a political prisoner. "I asked for nothing and I conceded nothing. It was a war."
Wickliffe had been in jail since 2011.