John Frederick ERICSON - 31/03/2016

[Withheld] Parole hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002


John Frederick ERICSON

Hearing: 31 March 2016  via AVL from NZPB Head Office, Wellington to  [withheld]
Members of the Board: 

      Hon. M A Frater – Panel Convenor
      Dr J Skipworth
      Mr B McMurray



In attendance:  

       [withheld]  (Department)


1. Fifty four year old John Frederick Ericson is serving a life sentence of imprisonment for the murder of his wife in 1999.

2. His last Board appearance was on 21 April 2015.  For the reasons set out in their decision, the Board supported individual psychological treatment with a senior practitioner.  They emphasised the importance of that person having access to all reports available to the sentencing Court and particularly the psychiatric reports, so that discrepancies in Mr Ericson’s explanations could be canvassed in advance of the risk assessment which  they also sought.

3. Since then, Mr Ericson has filed over 20 section 26 applications.  These were dealt with in seven decisions of either the Board or a Panel Convenor, and all were dismissed.

4. In many of those applications, Mr Ericson seemed to be seeking not an earlier hearing but a postponement order which, as pointed out in the decisions, could not be achieved through that process.

5. Today, far from conceding that his client was not ready for parole and seeking a new hearing outside the two year statutory cycle, [withheld] sought Mr Ericson’s release on parole.

6. In support he submitted that Mr Ericson had completed the requisite individual psychological treatment, was housed in a Self Care Unit at [Withheld], and was working in a trusted position.

7. His release plan involved either release to [Withheld] supported accommodation at [withheld], which was confirmed in writing, or the  [withheld], although [withheld] was unable to provide any written confirmation of Mr Ericson’s acceptance onto that programme or, indeed, whether he had been assessed for it.

8. We accept that Mr Ericson has been undertaking individual psychological treatment sessions with [withheld] for some months now, and that they have been useful. However, it seems that much of the work that they have done has focused on aspects of his personal history, rather than the index offending, and that there is much more work to do in that regard. 

9. In his report dated 9 December 2015  [withheld]  commented that: “Treatment has seen a number of disclosures made that when fully understood and realised may contribute to changes in Mr Ericson’s estimated risk of recidivism.”

10. Given that, he recommended that:
“Until such time that full information has been gathered from Mr Ericson, a definitive updated assessment of risk of re-offending be postponed.”

11. In the course of the hearing today, Mr Ericson mentioned two reports prepared at the time of sentencing which were previously unknown to the Board – from Dr [withheld]  and from a [withheld]  psychiatrist, [withheld].  He said that these had been made available to [withheld], his treating psychologist, and that he consented to them being made available to the Board, if appropriate.  It would certainly be helpful to see them.

12. We accept that Mr Ericson’s risk has consistently been assessed as low.  However, we also note [withheld]’s comments set out above.  It is important that a definitive assessment of risk be completed before a further decision on Mr Ericson’s release on parole is made.  We ask that it be completed for the next hearing.

13. The assessment should take into account, not only the work which Mr Ericson has recently undertaken to address his offending, but also all relevant assessments made at the time of his offending.

14. It should also comment on relevant reintegrative activities and assessment of the suitability of his release proposals.

15. In the circumstances, parole is declined.  Mr Ericson will be scheduled to be seen again in October this year and, in any event before, the end of that month, to reconsider his release on parole.  We make no promises as to the outcome of that hearing.


Hon. M A Frater
Panel Convenor