No parole for Somali hijacker
A Somali woman who hijacked a plane between Blenheim and Christchurch armed with three knives has been refused parole.
Asha Ali Abdille, 39, was sentenced to nine years' jail with a minimum non-parole period of six years, after originally pleading guilty to hijacking an Air New Zealand plane carrying seven other passengers and two pilots in 2008.
Abdille, a Somali refugee who came to New Zealand alone in 1994, had been living in Blenheim since 2005.
On the flight to Christchurch, Abdille approached the cockpit with three hidden knives. She thrust a knife towards the pilot and told him to fly the plane to Australia.
She threatened to crash the plane and kill everyone onboard.
After the plane landed, the captain's thumb was partially amputated after he tried to seize the knife from Abdille.
A parole hearing was held on Tuesday for Abdille, whose sentence ends in February 2017.
The Parole Board refused her application on the grounds that she posed a risk to the community if released.
A psychiatric report indicated she posed a high risk of violence and self harm. She was partially compliant with her medication and her mental state fluctuated in the initial stages of her sentence, the report said.
Abdille had agreed to trial clozapine, an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia.
A forensic nurse and a social worker with Abdille for the hearing said there had been a positive response from the medication.
The Parole Board noted Abdille had 28 previous convictions and was involved in a high number of incidents and misconducts while in prison.
She was seriously injured in one of those incidents.
She seemed relatively settled in terms of her mental health, in spite of a difficult past and a rocky start to her sentence. She also started group work and progress was being made on developing a support network that would help her in the future, the board said.
Despite her progress, there was a lot of work for her to do before she could be considered for parole.
She was in the right place and was getting appropriate treatment, the board said.
The Marlborough Express