Man with history of violence left homeless, 'raising risk to public'

An intellectually disabled man with a history of violent and sexual offending and who is on on intensive supervision is homeless for at least the next three nights with no emergency accommodation available.

The man’s lawyer says the longer he’s homeless the greater the chances are that he reoffends, putting the public at risk.

The man, who cannot be identified, ended up in a cycle of serious and repeat offending after a childhood rife with abandonment, state care, and serious abuse.

He is currently on a sentence of intensive supervision following an assault and intentional damage while in custody. Intensive supervision is a community-based rehabilitation sentence.

The man’s lawyer, Anselm Williams, told The New Zealand Herald the man had about 18 months left on his intensive supervision sentence. He is on a benefit, and accommodation is difficult to find. He had stable accommodation with his partner, however, their relationship ended and he could no longer live with her.

Corrections had been trying to engage the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) for over a week but kept getting told no, Williams said.

“Corrections have been doing amazing work with him, however, MSD have indicated that they don’t consider he meets their criteria. They have suggested a men’s shelter but that is inappropriate and raises significant risks for him and ultimately his risk of offending,” he said.

“We managed to find someone to fund a motel for the weekend for him but that cannot continue.”

Williams said the man’s predicament was “really concerning”, as he would be homeless until the next emergency accommodation appointment becomes available on Thursday.

“He has made great progress and is working really well with Corrections who are doing a great job with him. He has been out of trouble for maybe two years now and has been taking on casual work from time to time and working towards getting his driver’s licence.

“If he doesn’t have stable accommodation then he will struggle to cope and that raises the risk of offending which is concerning for everyone.”

The man had people supporting him in the community, but he was “highly-stressed”.

“He struggles when there is uncertainty in his life and that often causes him to act out including by committing offences,” Williams said.

“Those working with him have had to calm him down several times already.”

Williams said given the man’s needs he should be “prioritised” both for his benefit and the community.

“He really needs permanent stable accommodation but at the moment there is nothing.”

In March last year, the man was bailed to a South Island campground because the judge dealing with the case had no choice but to remand him into the community after the Ministry of Health and other agencies could not provide an appropriate secure bed for him and put him into the “too-hard basket”.

Judge Raoul Neave said the man had been treated like a “human pass-the-parcel” and his situation was an “appalling spectacle” that had been effectively dumped on the court to resolve.

In December 2021, Judge Neave found the man unfit to stand trial on his most recent charges - saying it was clear he “suffered from significant deficits and had a large number of extremely complex issues”.

His situation was further complicated by his offending which included escaping and violent behaviour.

Judge Neave said the man was a “significant risk” to the public and needed to be “managed”.

The court heard that the man had been living at a property run by a charitable trust who provides community-based mental health and disability support.

The charity acts on behalf of the state as a matter of contract with the Ministry of Health.

Judge Neave was told the trust “will not take him”.

“Partially as a result of previous difficulties… (the trust) have said they will no longer maintain his residence, and he cannot stay there,” said Judge Neave.

“This is the most enormous tragedy because… if he is not placed there, he has to go somewhere else.

“If he does not go there, no other bail address presents itself.”

By Sam Sherwood