Parole denied for West Coast butcher who killed wife

Lindsay Lamont with her granddaughter and, inset, Peter Lamont, who was jailed in 2010 for a...
Lindsay Lamont with her granddaughter and, inset, Peter Lamont, who was jailed in 2010 for a minimum of 14-and-a-half years for her murder.
The family of a butcher who used three knives to murder his wife is worried that, once he’s eventually freed from prison, he’ll be deported to the United Kingdom where there will be no official control or oversight of him.

Normally, after prisoners are jailed for life and freed on parole, they are subject to post-release conditions for the rest of their lives. If they breach those conditions, they can be recalled to prison.

However, Peter Lamont, from Scotland, will be deported upon his eventual release, which could be later this year. He was jailed for life in 2010 and ordered to serve at least 14½ years in jail.

The New Zealand Parole Board, which has recently released its reasons for refusing him parole at his first hearing in January, has no jurisdiction in the UK over where he goes, or with whom he interacts.

"The thing that concerns us is that, once he gets on that plane, there’s no one to watch him," Rose Ruddle, a close friend of Lamont’s late wife and of the family, told NZME this week.

"He doesn’t have to tell anyone what he’s done. He’ll essentially be a free man.

"Who’s going to watch him? Nobody."

Lamont, 61, handed himself in to police after murdering his wife Lindsay at their home near Greymouth, on the West Coast, in 2009.

A butcher by trade, he had been drinking throughout the day and was preparing food when he lashed out at his wife, stabbing her several times.

The first knife broke with the force of the stabbing so he grabbed another, which also broke. A third knife was bent at a 90-degree angle by the time Lamont had stabbed her 25 times.

Lamont then attempted to kill himself before handing himself in at the Greymouth police station, where he confessed, saying a veil had descended over him and he’d "just snapped".

In a letter read to the High Court in 2009, Lamont said he had "in a moment of madness, weakness and selfishness taken away everything that was good".

In January this year, Lamont had his first appearance before the Parole Board, which recently issued its written decision to decline his early release.

Despite his being by all accounts a model prisoner and completing all the rehabilitative programmes asked of him, the board was concerned it would have neither control nor oversight of him in the UK.

Peter Lamont's bid for an early release from prison was declined at his first appearance before...
Peter Lamont's bid for an early release from prison was declined at his first appearance before the Parole Board in January this year. Photo: Greymouth Star
In New Zealand, the board can liaise with Corrections, police and other community services to ensure a parolee is supported outside prison and that they’re complying with their release conditions.

"None of that will be possible for Mr Lamont," the board said in its decision.

The board also noted that, because Lamont was considered a low-medium security risk, he couldn’t go on essential pre-release programmes while on parole that were "fundamental to testing a prisoner before release".

"We invite Corrections to think about ways in which Mr Lamont could be tested in a variety of circumstances so that can go some way to meeting the Parole Board’s concerns expressed in this decision."

The board also found that Lamont’s explanations about why he’d killed his wife were not particularly credible.

Its ruling noted that family members believed he had killed his wife because she told him she was going to leave him. However, Lamont said that wasn’t true and several issues had built up between them in his mind.

"He had never discussed them with his wife. He suppressed his anger and his emotions and they all exploded on that day," the board’s decision reads.

"As we have said, we did not find the explanation particularly credible. Really, he did not have an explanation for why he brutally murdered his wife."

The board will see Lamont again in November but Ruddle says the family, particularly his stepdaughter Falon, are concerned about him returning to the UK should he be released.

"I don’t doubt that he will get out at some point," Ruddle said.

"At the end of the day, I can’t change anything and I can’t change whatever decision the Parole Board make in November."

Ruddle said she wants to see Lamont serve 17 years in prison, which was the starting point at which his sentencing judge arrived before giving him a discount for pleading guilty and for his extreme remorse.

"The ideal would be that he never gets out but that’s unrealistic."

She said the board had been supportive of the registered victims but she understood its hands were tied when it came to a lack of supervision upon Lamont’s eventual release.

"It appears to me to be a failure in the system that he can fly free on release."

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said that, when foreign nationals were granted parole, it made inquiries in their home countries about the proposed release arrangements.

"In doing so, the Parole Board accepts that it has no power to enforce the proposed arrangements," its statement said, also noting that it had jurisdiction only on home soil.

"Notification to receiving countries’ law enforcement agencies is Interpol-to-Interpol or police-to-police."

Former Parole Board member and Auckland University of Technology law professor Kyhlee Quince told NZME it was unusual for a "lifer" to be deported.

Former Parole Board panel member Professor Khylee Quince said it was unusual for a lifer to be...
Former Parole Board panel member Professor Khylee Quince said it was unusual for a lifer to be deported. Photo: NZME.
However, she said it was an increasing issue for the board as more foreign nationals served time for meth-related offending.

"They’re serving long sentences but often they’re only serving half of them before they’re paroled."

The key phrase was "undue risk" and the board had to be satisfied that a former prisoner wouldn’t be a danger to any community into which they were released, especially if that community was outside New Zealand.

While the board had no jurisdiction outside New Zealand, Quince said authorities in countries with which it had a close relationship, such as Australia, would know when an offender was due to be sent back.

"For commonwealth countries like Australia, we have a pretty good relationship with police and community corrections."

But she couldn’t be sure the same thing would happen in the UK.

 - Jeremy Wilkinson, Open Justice reporter