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Clinton Michael Dearman (51) was jailed for seven and a half years for the two offences, which took place over four months, and his sentence ends in May 2020.
But the Parole Board at a hearing at Rolleston Prison last month signed off the prisoner's early release, subject to a range of strict conditions.
"This panel of the Board considers that Mr Dearman has demonstrated the sustained positive change that it was looking for," panel convener Judge Michael Crosbie said.
The board heard he had completed the Drug Treatment Programme and Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme and was classified as a minimum-security prisoner.
Dearman was also aided by a positive report from his principal Corrections officer (PCO).
"The PCO noted that Mr Dearman was recently the subject of what the department believes was an assault on him. The PCO noted that Mr Dearman did not retaliate in any way and appears to have utilised the strategies that he has learnt from Departmental programmes," Judge Crosbie said.
Dearman wore a balaclava during the first robbery of the Forbury Pharmacy, during which he locked staff in a room.
In his second hit, he returned to the premises at closing time, demanded more drugs, then taped staff's hands before locking them in the toilet.
Dearman also gained notoriety over the botched burglary of the Christchurch Petanque Club in 2005, in which he was hog-tied by elderly members as they waited for police to arrive.
The board noted he had work organised on a lifestyle block on parole.
"Clearly, with Mr Dearman's history, there is a risk. The test however is whether such risk is undue."
The board said he could be safely released under strict conditions:
- To complete any programme directed by Probation.
- To reside at an address approved by Probation.
- For the first six months of release, to abide by a 9pm-7am curfew.
- Not to contact any victim of offending.
- Not to possess alcohol or non-prescription drugs.
- To appear again before the Parole Board if instructed.