Minister acts on parole killing

01:43, Jan 31 2009

Details of an explosive report on police and parole blunders that led to a hardened criminal killing a woman in a car crash could soon be revealed.

The Crown Law Office has filed an urgent application to revise suppression orders that have stopped publication of the report for six months.

The highly critical but heavily suppressed report says police and probation staff contributed to enabling a paroled criminal to be on the loose when his car hit a vehicle carrying the 20-year-old woman.

State Services Minister David Parker gave officials a "hurry-on" yesterday and said he did not know if delays in getting suppression lifted were the fault of the Government or the courts but "it needs to be brought to a head".

Mr Parker said he was surprised it had taken so long and he understood the frustration of the victim's family.

Parts of the report were published in yesterday's Dominion Post but the family expressed dismay that critical parts of it remained secret.

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Suppression also blocks the names of the killer, his victim and her family's name. Dominion Post lawyers applied yesterday for the orders to be lifted.

The victim's mother said last night that she believed the issue could have dragged on for months more as "everyone blamed everyone else". She said her family was tired of promises.

The report by Kristy McDonald, QC, reveals the man broke the law three times while on parole.

He also repeatedly flouted parole rules that could have put him back behind bars but he was only recalled to finish his 32-month sentence when he had killed.

Eight days after being stripped of his driver's licence for reckless driving and failing to stop - his first offence on parole - he appeared in court on a drink-driving charge but used a different name.

He was fined $500, lost his licence and walked free. A month later - after twice more breaching parole - he went drink-driving again and this time killed.

He was sentenced to 5 1/2 years' jail in May last year and will be eligible for parole in nine months.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said he was suspicious of delays in getting suppression orders lifted. The six-month delay had given authorities and bureaucrats time to "protect themselves".

Mr McVicar said the man repeatedly blew his chances and it was hard to believe he was still being protected by court orders.

The public had lost faith in the parole system and this was "a classic example of how corrupt the ideology of parole has become. It is now about getting offenders out [of prison]".

"I can't think of a word strong enough to say what this does to victims. They get no opportunity to move on, to try to accept what has happened.

"They are pushed down. All they hear about is offenders' rights."

The Dominion Post