'No power under law' to monitor stalker

DAVID CLARKSON AND FAIRFAX
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2014
Vincent Kerry Warren
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON
STALKER: Vincent Kerry Warren, 38, appears in the Christchurch District Court for sentencing on harassment and threatening to kill charges.

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Authorities will be powerless to monitor a stalker, who threatened to torture his victim and cut her throat, when his sentence ends.

Vincent Kerry Warren stalked a Canterbury woman for four years. Yesterday, he was sentenced to five years' jail. He is likely to serve the full term and after that authorities will be powerless to monitor him.

Christchurch District Court Judge Alistair Garland said he was so concerned about Warren's offending that he would have sent him to the High Court where an open-ended jail sentence of preventive detention could be considered.

"Unfortunately, that is not possible as the law stands," said the judge, as he sentenced Warren on charges of criminal harassment and threatening to kill.

Preventive detention, which allowed a person to be recalled to prison if their behaviour gave cause for concern, was only available for more serious offences.

The woman was Warren's driving instructor. She is married with children and has told him she wants no relationship.

The years of harassment included emails, texts, voice messages containing threats, contact on Facebook, throwing eggs at her house, waiting for her and apparently photographing her on her way to work.

His stalking escalated despite one jail term and court orders to make him stop.

While in custody awaiting trial, Warren told a man he met that as soon as he was released he planned to locate the woman, abduct her and then "make her suffer" for four years of pain before cutting her throat and watching her die.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust yesterday called on Justice Minister Judith Collins to take a bill to Parliament that would give judges discretion to consider preventive detention for Warren's convictions.

Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said: "We've seen Parliament act under urgency. It should be done now. They need to broaden it out so it can cover this category of offending. It doesn't, but it can."

Malcolm Chaston had made violent threats in prison before he was released and killed Vanessa Pickering, he said.

Collins said the Government had no plans to extend the list of offences for which preventive detention could be imposed.

The court heard that the woman was considering moving overseas with her family to escape Warren's harassment.

Probation found Warren had no remorse and a high risk of reoffending.

A psychological report showed no mental health or cognitive difficulties that would explain his behaviour. Judge Garland imposed a three-year, four-month non-parole term.

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"Your behaviour has now taken a more sinister and chilling turn for the worse with your threat to kill her."

Warren's former cellmate at Christchurch Men's Prison told police that Warren was "so specific" about his plans for his victim that he was "worried about what he would do when he does get out", documents show.

"Vincent said within 24 hours of getting out of prison he will get [her]. He said, ‘The next time they get me it won't be for no . . . harassment charge", the prisoner told police.

"I truly believe he will get her when he gets out," the prisoner said.

The lawyer assisting Warren, Paul Norcross, said he believed that imposing a minimum non-parole term would be unnecessary because unless Warren admitted his offending he would be likely to serve the whole jail term anyway.

Extended supervision orders, which allow up to 10 years of monitoring after release, apply only to child sex offenders.

A bill proposed by Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley to expand their scope to include high-risk sex offenders and very high-risk violent offenders would not cover Warren.

Labour justice spokesman Andrew Little said the state had a duty to protect the community. "These extreme cases do test the law. If at the end of his sentence, he still poses a threat to even one person, if the present laws don't cover it, we have to look seriously at it," he said.

- The Press

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