Ewen Macdonald had job lined up
Ewen Macdonald's scuttled plan to live in Christchurch would have led to him being released from prison to an area where not everyone knows who he is.
After a hearing at Christchurch Men's Prison yesterday, the Parole Board decided not to free Macdonald from jail.
Board members said he could pose a risk to the community.
He had asked to be released to a Christchurch property and said he had a promise of employment. The promise had been sealed through a handshake after meeting a contact while working chopping firewood.
A tanned Macdonald had done other work outside the prison, including clearing storm debris from a golf course. He had also mowed prison lawns unsupervised.
Despite his notoriety, he said not everyone had recognised him, including a tyre repair man and people who had stopped and asked him for directions.
Macdonald's lawyer, Peter Coles, who lives in Feilding, said he was "aware of the enormous public focus in that area that seems to dissipate as you get further away geographically".
Macdonald will not come before the Parole Board again until late next year. He 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.
Macdonald was acquitted on that charge last year, but jailed for five years for a string of other offences, including arson, vandalism and killing calves.
He and farm worker Callum Boe undertook night-time "missions".
Macdonald told the Parole Board he was appalled at his crimes and was undertaking appropriate counselling in jail.
He committed the offences because they had made him feel better, and out of a desire to seek revenge and tip the scales in his favour when his life was out of balance.
He had changed and, recently, when other prison inmates directed negative comments at him, Macdonald's response was to talk to them about the situation.
Board member Associate Professor Philip Brinded, a forensic psychologist, quizzed Macdonald about observations professionals dealing with him made about his personality. They included that he had "narcissistic" traits, was "self-centred" and engaged in "impression management".
Macdonald said he didn't completely agree.
He admitted that 12 months ago, when he was first eligible for parole, he had not focused on his offending.
Coles echoed that, saying he had then advised Macdonald to tell the board that he wasn't ready for release and the community wasn't ready to have him back.
"Ewen at that stage could not see beyond the fact that he had been acquitted of murder and the crimes he pleaded guilty to, he hadn't to my mind focused on them at all."
If Macdonald had been released it had been proposed he be on a night-time curfew, electronic monitoring and not have any contact with his victims or Boe.
Macdonald had identified possible risks and had worked out a "safety plan".
He was hopeful of maintaining contact with his four children and said relations with his former wife, Anna Guy, were civil.
If his offending had not come to light, they would probably still be together, Macdonald said.
In jail, Macdonald had developed an interest in keeping fit and wanted to pursue that when released. He would not use firearms or go hunting, he said.
Scott Guy's father, Bryan, welcomed the Parole Board's decision. He hadn't thought Macdonald would have been released back to Manawatu anyway.
Ahead of yesterday's hearing, he was unsure what to expect.
"I probably thought 50:50 that it could go either way," he said.
"It sounds like the next hearing will be in another 12 months' time. That's pleasing from our point of view, certainly."
After the hearing, Coles said Macdonald understood that parole was a privilege.
"There's nothing to infer in terms of any other matter he was previously charged with. It's not part of the board's decision."
He told reporters if they were "going to throw stones at Ewen Macdonald, you just be sure that you're not throwing any at his children".
- © Fairfax NZ News
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