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Two conflicting stories on Burton's parole recall

Simon Power MP
National Party Justice & Corrections Spokesman

29 November 2007

Two conflicting stories on Burton's parole recall

There appear to be two conflicting stories coming from the Corrections Department over events surrounding the Graeme Burton parole disaster, says National's Justice & Corrections spokesman, Simon Power.

"Yesterday, community probation general manager Katrina Casey told the Coroner's hearing into the killing of Karl Kuchenbecker that if Burton had been recalled from parole earlier it was possible Mr Kuchenbecker would still be alive.

"This differs markedly from what CEO Barry Matthews said in a press release on March 6 this year.

"He said: 'The Department's investigation into the management of Graeme Burton ... has found that Corrections policies and processes were followed ... Some things could have been done faster. However, I don't believe this had any impact on the final outcome. Overall his parole was well managed.'

"Katrina Casey said action should have been taken on December 13 after Burton failed to report, but was delayed because his probation officer was on holiday: 'As of the 13th, we should have thrown the book at him. We had a very convincing case. We should have taken enforcement action a week earlier. In effect we lost a week.'

"They had more than enough warnings to recall him, but they ignored them.

"Police told his probation officer on November 25 that he had delivered 'fearsome beatings' while on parole, and that he had firearms and a knife and they feared 'there will be one punch too many, resulting in murder/death/kill'.

"Despite this and a detective's alert that armed police had searched his home for firearms on 30 November and found that he'd cleared out, probation staff waited till December 22 before seeking his arrest.

"They hid behind some twisted logic that they could not act without sufficient evidence.

"Their version of sufficient evidence obviously differed wildly from everyone else's.

"Also revealed yesterday, but not in Corrections' report, was the fact that Burton's probation officer had been assigned too many high-risk offenders for one person to manage.

"These are vital pieces of the jigsaw but for some reason Corrections chose not to include them in their report. They need to explain these inconsistencies - or is this just another example of them covering their backs."

ENDS

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