Macdonald job offer may be withdrawn

PAROLE PLAN: Ewen Macdonald said not everyone recognised him.
PAROLE PLAN: Ewen Macdonald said not everyone recognised him.

Ewen Macdonald might want to start looking for a new job when he's released from prison.

The Canterbury business owner who offered him a lifeline says he's having second thoughts about employing such a high-profile criminal because he doesn't want all the media attention.

"When I get all this gravy that comes with it . . . is it worth my while?" the man told The Press.

Macdonald made his second bid for freedom when he appeared before the Parole Board at Christchurch Men's Prison this week, where it emerged he planned to live in Christchurch and had been offered a job.

However, he was denied release because board members said he could pose a risk to the community.

The man who offered Macdonald the job - whose name and company details are suppressed - said he was approached by the former Feilding dairy farmer at the prison in a yard which processes wood for his business. He recognised straight away who he was dealing with.

"I've seen the guy in the paper and know what he's in for. He's in for killing cows and arson and things like that - he's not in for murder. It's not up to me to decide if that's right or wrong," the man said.

He had dealt with Macdonald about 10 times and eventually the prisoner asked if he had a job going.

"I decided to give him a chance.

"Ewen's more educated than the average prisoner that works out there. He's run a successful farm and is handy with machinery. He's obviously quite capable."

The job, which involved running and fixing machinery, would have been until at least the end of winter next year.

"He ultimately wants to go back milking cows or running a dairy farm. It was an interim situation for me."

Macdonald will not come before the Parole Board again until late next year and by then the position at the company may no longer be available. Even if it was, the business owner said he might not employ him because of the intense media interest.

"It's too much [hassle]. I haven't got a lot of time for this sort of carry-on - I've got a business to run."

Dozens of prisoners had approached him in the yard wanting work in the last decade, the man said. He had employed about 30 of them, but most ended up back in prison or "slacking off when the pressure comes off".

"I've only had two or three that have gone out into the community and are leading a normal life."

Macdonald has been in custody since April 2011, when he was arrested for the murder of his brother-in-law, Feilding farmer Scott Guy, in July 2010.

He was acquitted on that charge last year but jailed for five years for a string of other offences, including arson, vandalism and killing calves.

The Press