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Parole boards's Awatere-Huata decision

Application for Home Detention

Under section 33(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Donna AWATERE-HUATA

Hearing: Wednesday 10 May 2006
at (prison withheld)

Members of the Board: Judge A. Tompkins - Panel Convenor
Judge D. Carruthers
Mr Patrick Tavai

DECISION OF THE BOARD

Introduction

Donna Awatere-Huata appears before the Parole Board today with an application for Back End Home Detention.

On 30 September 2005 she was sentenced to 2 years 9 months following conviction after trial on a number of charges of using a document for pecuniary advantage and one charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice. Ms Awatere-Huata has a parole eligibility date of 24 July 2006, and statutory release and sentence end dates of 22 May 2008.

The Hearing

Today the Board has before it a pre-release report prepared for the Board by the Department of Corrections, which in summary supports a period of Back End Home Detention leading up to Ms Awatere-Huata’s Parole Eligibility Date 24 July 2006. With reference to Section 35 of the Parole Act, the report concludes that if released on to Back End Home Detention Ms Awatere-Huata is unlikely to pose an undue risk to the community.

At today’s hearing the Board has heard from Ms Awatere-Huata herself, and from (family support, withheld), and (withheld) a representative of her home community at (withheld). Mr Jeremy Bioletti, her counsel, has also addressed the Board.

Discussion

It became apparent during the discussions that the Board had with Ms Awatere-Huata, and those present to support her, that Ms Awatere-Huata remains of the view, as she was throughout her trial and at her sentencing, that she committed no crime. She admits, as she puts it, “responsibility for everything that has happened, how everything unravelled,” and is understandably concerned at the effect her conviction and imprisonment has had on her immediate family particularly her children.

That stance also manifests itself in the fact that both she and her husband, Wi Huata who was also convicted at the same trial, are, as is the right of every New Zealander convicted of an offence, appealing both their conviction and sentence and the Board understands that the appeal is due to be heard in October of this year. The Board simply records that that is the position but otherwise puts that aspect of the matter to one side.

The Board is aware that, pending their appeal, Mr Wi Huata is on bail and caring for their children at their home at (withheld). The material put before the Board today notes that the proposed address at which Ms Awatere-Huata will serve her Home Detention sentence, is (withheld). There are other children residing elsewhere who would be reunited if Ms Awatere-Huata was released on Home Detention. The children’s individual needs for their mother have been highlighted in this application.

Whilst in prison, Ms Awatere-Huata has developed a five-day literacy course relevant to other female prisoners; her well-known skills in this area will thus continue in this way to assist others.
Decision
The Board has been presented with, and considered, a significant number of written submissions from members of the community at (withheld) and elsewhere.

These included a number of submissions from senior and distinguished New Zealanders from around the country.

It is evident that Ms Awatere-Huata enjoys considerable support in her community, support not only for herself personally, but also support to enable her to comply with the inevitable constrictions inherent in serving a term of imprisonment by way of Home Detention. Support is also evident, in the wider sense of keeping the community safe whilst at the same time properly managing the reintegration of Ms Awatere-Huata back into the community.

The Board notes that the detailed and appropriately restricted proposal presented to the Board at the hearing today for her release on to Home Detention includes as her sponsor a person who is a former Probation Officer who well understands the limitations placed on her freedom by the constraints of Home Detention.

In considering any application for Back End Home Detention, the Board must be satisfied, on reasonable grounds, that if released to serve part of their sentence on Home Detention, an offender would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community because she is detained on Home Detention rather than in a penal institution.

Having considered all the material placed before it, and the submissions made to it during today’s hearing, the Board has concluded that that test is met and Ms Awatere-Huata should be released on to Back End Home Detention as from (date withheld).

In reaching that conclusion, the Board is aware that the absence of acceptance of offending can, in some cases, heighten the risk an offender presents to the community but given the nature of the offences that Ms Awatere-Huata was convicted of, together with the support of the community into which she will be released to serve her sentence on Home Detention, and the conditions of that release, the Board is satisfied, that in this particular case, that risk is not heightened so as to make it undue.

In particular, the release conditions that Ms Awatere-Huata will be subject to will include a prohibition on her having any involvement or position of authority within any trust or organisation and any involvement in or control over, any money or funds of such an organisation for the duration of Home Detention.

No non-association order with Mr Wi Huata is today imposed by the Board as a condition of Ms Awatere-Huata’s release on Home Detention, nor, in the Board’s view, would such prohibition be appropriate in the circumstances of this case.
Result
Ms Awatere-Huata will be released on to Back End Home Detention as from (date withheld) subject to the conditions set out below.
The Board will see Ms Awatere-Huata in the ordinary course for consideration of parole, or for consideration of a further extension of her period of Back End Home Detention, during the Board sitting in July 2006 at (prison withheld).

Conditions

1. Travel directly to (withheld) on the day of release and await the arrival of the supervising Probation Officer and monitoring company.

2. Reside at (withheld) for the duration of Home Detention.

3. Not to associate with any persons, or class of persons, as notified in writing by the Probation Officer.

4. Attend religious services as negotiated with the Probation Officer at (withheld).

5. Abstain from the possession and consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs for the duration of Home Detention.

6. Not to hold any position of authority within any trust/organisation, in particular, not to be a signatory to any monies/funds for any organisation for the duration of home detention.

7. Undertake, participate in and complete assessment, and if suitable, undertake, participate in and complete such programme / education / counselling to address offending behaviour as directed by the Probation Officer.

8. Participate in restorative justice process as negotiated with the Probation Officer.

9. Undertake employment as directed by the Probation Officer.

Panel Convenor


Review

  • You may apply for a review of the Board’s decision under section 67(1). The only grounds under which you may make an application for review are that the Board, in making its decision:
  • a) Failed to comply with procedures in the Parole Act 2002; or
    b) Made an error of law; or
    c) Failed to comply with Board policy resulting in unfairness to the offender; or
    d) Based its decision on erroneous or irrelevant information that was material to the decision reached; or
    e) Acted without jurisdiction.

    - To apply for a review you must write to the Board within 28 days of its decision stating which of the above ground(s) you consider to be relevant in your case and giving reasons why you believe that ground(s) applies.

    - Reviews are considered on the papers only. There is no hearing in respect of your Review Application.

    ENDS


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