Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Under section 27(4)(b) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing: 1 March 2010 at (Withheld) Prison
Members of the Board:
Judge D J Carruthers
A/Prof P Brinded
Ms J Jackson
Mr B McMurray
Mr A Ritchie
Paul Joseph Dally was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1998 for a brutal, cruel and sadistic killing which shocked the nation at that time.
Today he is due to be seen for parole to be considered. He was also given notice that postponement under section 27 would also be considered today. He has signed a waiver. He has elected not to appear before the Board. He has the right to do that.
In his place we have a letter from his lawyer who writes with instructions to elect to waiver. The lawyer says a number of things and it is important that they are answered in this brief decision. For example the lawyer says that Mr Dally is frustrated, that he is doing everything in his power to progress his rehabilitation but has not been allowed to attend the Self Care Units. This, the lawyer says, is in spite of the recommendation made by this Board.
He also says that the reason for that lies in the fact that he has not been able to achieve any temporary releases or home leaves and the two are therefore linked.
There is a very general comment by counsel that efforts to further rehabilitation or sentencing plans are often frustrated by prison authorities and some more general comment is made about that proposal.
Finally the comment is that counsel had spoken to the Unit Manager who reports good progress in the more open environment of the unit Mr Dally is in at the moment but further progress is still to be sought.
Counsel concludes the letter on behalf of his client by “exhorting” us to recommend strongly that Mr Dally go to a Self Care Unit and also that we recommend some temporary releases and home leaves.
Counsel also, and finally, accepts that a postponement order may well be made. It is acknowledged that an application for parole can be brought again if there is a significant change of circumstances and that is something which is reserved perhaps for the future.
We begin in the absence of Mr Dally by reminding ourselves of the message we heard from the family of the victim in this terrible case. A significant and focused letter was written about Mr Dally to us. It was indicated to us that that could be made available in the usual way to Mr Dally. Of course, that cannot be done today because he is not present. Normally and in accordance with the law we would allow him to read such correspondence and then return it. That will need to await his next time physically before the Board but the message is a very clear one. It is, of course, concerned with public safety. There was very clear information before us about the devastation to others’ lives as a result of what he did, the concern that he had done nothing significant to change his behaviour and his attitude towards these things and that if he were to be released not only would there be fears for the safety of immediate family of the deceased but there would be a very strongly held fear that safety of others would be compromised.
We are unable, of course, to explain any of that to Mr Dally but no doubt he fully understands it.
What is of assistance today is that there is, as was generally anticipated last time, a comprehensive review by a senior psychologist of all the reports which have been filed in his case. We encouraged that. There are some very clear comments from it. Two in particular attract our attention at the present time.
One of them relates to the assessment of his risk. It refers to the assessment using the psychopathy checklist measure. In his case as a fundamental ‘starting point’ it is shown that he scores high on this checklist and these characteristics and traits show a “high degree of relationship to serious violent and sexual recidivism”.
There was also mention of the “potentially sinister combination of psychopathy and possible sadistic sexual practices” and we quote extensively this time from clause 65 of the review:
“In the final analysis I am not entirely confident that the full underlying motives for Mr Dally’s offending have been laid bare, and I consider that his current dismissal of his offence as “ancient history” coupled with his assertion that he has been convicted of murder, not a sexual offence, to be extremely problematic. In my view an opinion about him appears to have drifted under its own momentum away from his offending into his reintegrative and rehabilitative needs on release, and I consider that this is unfortunate, given that there still remains the potential to investigate aspects of his offending further and this may best be achieved by once again considering mandating his attendance at a facility such as Kia Marama prior to any final decision as to his release … my view that notwithstanding Mr Dally’s professed sensitivity and vulnerability, involvement in a well‑functioning, intensive therapeutic programme targeting the sexual aspects of Mr Dally’s offending may provide the best assurance that his potential risk to the community has been reduced.”
We agree with this summary of the overall position with Mr Dally. It brings a balance to the comments made by his lawyer in the letter quoted above. The recommendation for Self Care Units, temporary releases and home leaves against this quite chilling narrative indicates what the next steps must be.
We step back from the recommendation that he go to the Self Care Units. We are not at all convinced that he has yet dealt properly with the appalling offending which brought him to prison. We think that the last clause quoted extensively above clarifies in a particular way what has to happen next and that Mr Dally should not be seen to be in the reintegrative or rehabilitative stages of his time in prison. He needs to be seen as still requiring further intervention so that what happened can be, fully exposed.
Because of this, many of the matters which were commented on by counsel in his letter fall into their proper place. They are for the future and not for now.
For now there is much to be done before this Board could be satisfied that Mr Dally has honestly and appropriately faced what he did and taken steps to ensure it will not happen again.
That will take him some considerable time.
He was last time given the usual notice under section 27 of a postponement order. We are able to make a postponement order if there is no likelihood of significant change. There is, in our view, no such likelihood in the near future. The interventions and steps which need to be taken by Mr Dally will inevitably involve several years more in prison before he can be considered appropriate for release if then.
We have further confirmation of all this, if it were needed. We spoke to his Unit Manager today. His Unit Manager confirmed to us the impossibility of getting out of Mr Dally any really constructive suggestion about his plans. His constant reply was that his lawyer was going to handle all that for him. He seemed, in the words of the Unit Manager, to be content just to stay doing what he is doing at the moment which is involvement in a carving project and, however desirable and honourable that may be, it does not confront his appalling offending behaviour.
For obvious reasons parole will be declined today. We make a postponement order in view of our finding under section 27 that there is no likelihood of significant change for some time. We support the recommendations of the psychologists’ reviews.
Postponement will be made now for just under three years and we will see Mr Dally again just prior to the expiry of that time. He knows that under section 27(3) he has the right to reapply for a hearing before the Board in the event that he makes a significant change. He would need to make sure that that was particularly significant in terms of both the legislation and our comments above.
Judge DJ Carruthers
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.
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