Jason Robert John BUTLER - 31/03/2016
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Jason Robert John BUTLER
Hearing: 31 March 2016 VIa AVL from NZPB Head Office, Wellington to [withheld]
Members of the Board:
Hon. MA Frater – Panel Convenor
Dr J Skipworth
Mr B McMurray
Ms M Coleman
Support Person: [withheld]
DECISION OF THE BOARD
1. Forty four year old Jason Robert John Butler is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the murder of his former partner in 1997 – some 18 years ago.
2. We saw Mr Butler today to consider, as we are bound by statute to do, whether or not to release him on parole. In the event he did not seek it.
3. He continues to be detained under section 45 of the Mental Health (Compulsory Assessment and Treatment) Act 1992 in [withheld]. However, since he was seen by the Board in April last year he has made considerable progress in transition to the community.
4. He has been primarily housed in [withheld], the open rehabilitation ward at [withheld] from 24 September 2013 and, during the past year, has progressed to spending up to three nights in the community at [withheld], a supervised mental health facility in the community.
5. He is hoping that that will change during the next year and that he will be able to transition to spending up to six days leave from hospital and indeed that pathway has been endorsed by the Special Patient Review Panel and an application to the Director of Mental Health for approval is pending.
6. Mr Butler is usefully occupying his time in either programmes at the hospital or, three days a week, working on a voluntary basis at [withheld]. He travels there and back by bus. He is also free to go into the community in the weekend. When he is at [withheld], he lives in a flatting situation with five other residents.
7. Mr Butler accepts the diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and is compliant with all medication. He is actively engaged in treatment and working towards release into the community.
8. At this stage his aim is to remain in the [withheld] area post release.
9. At the beginning of the hearing we talked to him about the meeting which we had earlier in the week with one of his registered victims and the concerns which she expressed about him being released into the Bay of Plenty or even allowed to travel to the North Island. He said that he accepted that he would never be able to go to Tauranga and undertook to consider her concerns that he be prohibited from accessing a wider geographical area.
10. It is appropriate to note that the victim also said that it was her understanding that Mr Butler had never expressed remorse for his crime and the consequences of it.
11. We raised this with him and, on reviewing our file, noted that from 2007 onwards and if not before, Mr Butler has consistently expressed remorse. His views are summarised in the letter written in 2014 which he endorsed today. He said –
“I am totally remorseful and truly sorry for taking the life of my ex partner.
I am very sorry she never had the chance to live a full and happy life as someone’s daughter, mother, wife, cousin or friend.
I have ruined the life of my family, myself and all the above.
I can't begin to imagine the hurt they have for their loss and the hate they have for me.
It was selfish of me to take her life. I really do realise that my sentence and time will never heal their pain.
I can’t find the words to express how sorry I am.
I wasn’t thinking about how many lives I would destroy or the consequences of my actions.
I know they have reason to fear me but there is no need.
I also regret subjecting everyone to a trial.”
12. Parole is declined today. As noted above, Mr Butler did not seek it.
13. His next hearing will be in March 2017. An updated report from his treating clinician is required for that hearing together with a psychological assessment of his risk and the strength of his release plan.
Hon. MA Frater