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Corrections and Police under fire again

Hon Dr Nick Smith
National Party Nelson MP

9 July 2008

Corrections and Police under fire again - tragic death preventable

The Government must accept some responsibility for the tragic death of Debbie Ashton because of the mismanagement of the offender by Police and Corrections, says Nelson MP Nick Smith.

A ministerial report was released today into the death of the 20-year-old at the hands of a man on parole in December 2006.

"Police placed a dangerous criminal in Nelson on the witness protection programme with negligible supervision and ignored the warning signs of his repeated reoffending. They were more concerned with protecting this offender than protecting innocent lives.

"Corrections failed to monitor this offender's parole. He should have been recalled the first time he reoffended instead of being allowed to go on to reoffend a second and third time.

"It is unbelievable that Police, Corrections, and this man's legal aid lawyer all knew he had an extensive criminal background, and had been before the same court only a month earlier and knowingly allowed the court to be misled into thinking he was a first time offender.

"This criminal got the message that, as a protected witness, he was above the law, and his behaviour became more and more out of control until he killed someone.

"This tragedy was not only preventable the truth should have come to light much, much earlier. It should have been obvious to Police and Corrections from the day this police-protected witness was arrested in 2006 for killing Debbie Ashton that they had stuffed up. Instead it was brushed under the carpet.

"Ironically, and even more tragically, these events happened in the same month that Graeme Burton murdered Karl Kuckenbecker after a series of blunders by Police and Corrections.

"Corrections and Police need a damn good shake up and a clear message that the protection of the public is their paramount duty."


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