Killer getting limited leave

Gareth Lawrence Smither, who murdered his ex-girlfriend in Dunedin almost 16 years ago, has been having some limited unescorted ground leave, a New Zealand Parole Board decision notes.

The 41-year-old would not be released on parole, as he posed an ''undue risk to the safety of the community'', the board noted at a parole hearing last week.

Smither used a spade and a kitchen knife to kill Karen Jacobs in Dunedin in July 1997.

The board noted Smither, who is living at an undisclosed location, has an extensive mental health history.

''The pathway for his rehabilitation was through extensive treatment, and he had much to do before parole could even be considered,'' the board noted after it first saw him more than a year ago.

Since that first hearing, he had undergone extensive psychological counselling and treatment and participated in an intervention programme concerning violent offending.

''He has had some limited unescorted ground leave and the clinical team do not propose that he graduate at present to unescorted leaves.''

It was recommended Smither continue to engage in one-to-one psychological counselling to address ''stalking behaviour within relationships''.

While his counsel advocated his release on parole, the board decided ''this is out of the question and he does not meet the statutory test that he would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community''.

The board observed he was making progress, but ''much more is required''.

Despite a request from his victims that Smither be subjected to a postponement order, the board, after careful consideration, decided to exercise its discretion and would monitor his progress on an annual basis.

 

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