Editorial: Bailey's going nowhere fast

Last updated 05:00 15/05/2014

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The public isn't always willing to bide its time.

But you'd struggle to find an occasion that brings out a more stony and implacable sense of patience among southerners than when Paul David Bailey makes one of his fruitless appearances in front of the Parole Board.

The man who raped and murdered Kylie Smith in 1991 emerges on occasion, only to be dispatched time and again to the depths after being assessed each time, to nobody's particular surprise, as still unrehabilitated and unsafe for release.

You'll be doing well to find a single set of impatiently drumming fingers.

Not that people were uninterested in the outcome of each hearing. There was always an acute sense of empathy, all right. But it was for the Smith family.

Attending those hearings was a distressing chore for her father Bevan.

When he died in 2012, his wife Dawn said that the spark had gone out of him the day Kylie died, but even in that context the buildup to the parole hearings had been a time when depression really kicked in.

Their daughter's murder had particularly appalled the nation not only because of its brutality, but because Bailey had been on bail, charged with an attempted knifepoint rape.

This realisation, of course, added to the Smiths' torments. Three women from the Owaka community started a petition that attracted nearly 300,000 signatures, calling for tougher sentences and no parole for offenders of Bailey's type.

It was received with grave political intonations, but without the followups for which the family, and signatories, had been aching.

Since 2006 Bailey had often waived his right to parole hearings though this was hardly out of any vivid self-awareness of his wrongdoing. Quite the opposite. What he did understand, however, was that in functional terms, he just had no chance of success.

Up to 2010 he had refused to be interviewed for a psychological assessment to undertake child sex offender treatment. He also continued to show a propensity for violence, a deviant sex drive, and drug and alcohol abuse.

An assessment that year still found him - and we paraphrase - a toxic package. More specifically, he had self-entitlement beliefs, a desire for sexual gratification and belief in the acceptability of sexual violence.

Significant psychopathic personality traits included superficiality, grandiosity, deceitfulness and a lack of remorse or empathy.

More recently Bailey has been undergoing the Kia Marama programme and is due to complete it next June, after which he's due to take part in what is called the "graduates group".

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In its latest finding the Parole Board has at last noted "significant progress". But let's not get carried away. He still struggles to appreciate the impact of his offending and , even now, minimises his continuing high level of sexual preoccupation and deviant fantasy.

So that's still a treatment target then. It's back to jail and they'll see him in two years, with no implicit promise of release then either. And as things stand, the board isn't convinced that the programme he's on is addressing all aspects of his offending, especially violent and coercive behaviour and attitudes.

So Bailey has further self-improvement projects to be getting on with. As things stand he's still a nasty piece of work in progress.

- The Southland Times

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