Black Power leader parole bid denied

Last updated 14:14 27/11/2013

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A Hawera Black Power leader and double murderer, Denis Richard Luke, has been told he may never be released from prison.

In its latest decision, the Parole Board denied parole for Luke, noting he was assessed as high risk.

Luke, 55, was first convicted of murder, along with an older man, in Wellington in 1975 when he was 16.

He was released in 1985, but in 1996, when he was president of Hawera's Black Power, he was involved in the door-step murder of Christopher Crean.

"This time an innocent victim was down to give evidence detrimental to the Black Power gang," the Parole Board said in its written decision released this week.

He was given a minimum 14-year non-parole period which made him eligible to apply for parole three years ago.

The board said it again heard from victims in advance of the hearing.

They had repeated their concern at his release and in particular their concern about any release that would permit access to Taranaki.

Luke had been moved to an "inner self-care" unit and was working with a marae gang, the board said.

There was a psychological recommendation that Luke work towards an external self-care status and further reintegrative activity.

"We have the benefit of an updated psychological report," the board said.

While Luke's risk rating continued to be high, the board noted he had undergone 16 sessions of individual psychological treatment.

"The psychologist recommendation is that given Mr Luke's high risk and long period of imprisonment there should be extended testing of his commitment to a pro-social lifestyle and of his capacity to implement skills that he may have learned in prison."

Luke was transferred to outer self-care on August 27 this year.

He had his first escorted outing on August 9 and there had been two medical escorts.

Recommendations were for him to gain release to work status and to gradually increasing escorted outings and day paroles.

Luke, whose support person told the board he had family support, conceded that there was further work for him to do in relation to his reintegrative programme. Nevertheless, he was seeking a recommendation from the Parole Board in relation to day leave and perhaps short-term leaves.

"The board feels able to support appropriate reintegrative activity, but that is against our clear view that with a prisoner of Mr Luke's risk and record, we must exercise extensive caution in the contemplation of any release on parole.

"The reality is that there have been two murders and the question for the board in the future, notwithstanding the reintegrative programme, is whether the pathway is in fact one of ultimate release. That to us is a different matter.

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"Any release plan would have to be compelling in every respect and not least in relation to the testing issue surrounding Mr Luke's connection with Black Power.

"As things stand, risk continues to be undue and parole must be declined," the board said.

Luke will again be seen in 12 months.

- Fairfax Media

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