A woman whose home was torched by her ex-partner is shocked
he has been released from jail after serving just over
one-third of his sentence.
Sally Blumenthal of Rotorua said she felt she had been
ignored by the New Zealand Parole Board as she had asked them
not to release him as she was frightened of what he could do.
"I'm still looking over my shoulder. I don't feel safe. He
burgled my home, he set fire to it and he hasn't even done 12
Miss Blumenthal's ex-partner, Shane Raymond Ashton, 42, was
sentenced in the Rotorua District Court in February last year
to two years and eight months' jail after pleading guilty to
arson. He applied for parole at a hearing on January 16 and
was released from jail by the Parole Board last month.
On September 9, 2011, Miss Blumenthal was out and just after
midnight Ashton walked past her Malfroy Rd property. He had
been drinking alcohol. Ashton got into the house through a
window and took some items he had given Miss Blumenthal. He
turned on the oven and the elements and put the complainant's
computer on her bed before setting fire to it. He set fire to
a bed in another room and left.
The house was destroyed and Miss Blumenthal's cat was killed.
She lost $30,000 worth of items in the fire.
The board in its decision said a parole assessment report
indicated Ashton had been a model prisoner, which had also
been confirmed by his Corrections officer. Ashton had
accepted that this was an extreme situation "occasioned by
his bad decision, having consumed alcohol, which he does not
offer as excuses".
Ashton had acknowledged what he had done was serious and
unforgivable, the Parole Board said.
He also acknowledged the sentiments expressed in the victim
impact statement which he had seen but said he did not want
to have any contact with Miss Blumenthal.
Ashton had had counselling and the plan had been for him to
take part in the Dependency Treatment Unit Programme at the
prison, but he was unlikely to get entry to the programme
before the sentence end date next year.
The Parole Board said it would release Ashton as the risk of
him re-offending was low. His behaviour in prison had been
excellent, he'd had a minimum security classification while
in prison and very good family support.
"All of those factors indicate to us that despite the time
left on his sentence ... and also in consideration of
conditions which he will be obliged to meet, that he is not
an undue risk to the community should he be released at this
The conditions of his parole include not coming to Rotorua
unless approved by his probation officer, not to contact Miss
Blumenthal, to undertake counselling including addressing
alcohol-related issues and not to possess or consume alcohol
until February 3 next year.
He is also to live at an address, which has not been made
public, and not to move from there unless approved by his
Miss Blumenthal said she had been made aware of the Parole
Board hearing and wrote to the board asking them not to
She did not learn of Ashton had been freed from jail until a
week after his release.
"I was a bit gutted. I'm very disappointed in the judicial
system. I feel like I have been ignored. It feels like the
victim is being punished."
She said the parole conditions only applied until October
next year and Ashton was still allowed to come to Rotorua as
long he had permission from his probation officer. She
understood he was living in a region close to Rotorua.
Miss Blumenthal said she never wanted to see Ashton again and
did not know what she would do if she did.
"As far as I'm concerned he doesn't exist."
- By Abigail Hartevelt of the Daily Post