Colin David BOUWER - 30/08/2017
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Colin David BOUWER
Hearing: 30 August 2017
At (withheld) via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Head Office, Wellington
Members of the Board:
- Alan Ritchie (Panel Convenor)
- Assoc. Prof. P Brinded
- Mr B McMurray
- Mr L Tawera
In attendance: (withheld) – Corrections Psychologist
Support Persons: (withheld)
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Colin David Bouwer, 67, has appeared for the further consideration of parole on his life sentence for the murder of his wife in 1999.
- There is no other recorded criminal history.
- The prison security classification is low/medium and the RoC*RoI 0.1065.
- On 23 August 2016 Mr Bouwer was not seeking parole. He was hoping to have his deportation order cancelled on the basis of significant health issues. In addition, individual counselling recommended by a psychologist and supported by the Board in September 2015 had not been able to be completed.
- The 2016 Board said it would need an updated report from treating clinicians and a psychological report along with updates on Mr Bouwer’s release plan.
- We have an addendum psychological report dated 20 July 2017.
- Mr Bouwer apparently reported to the psychologist that over recent months he had experienced some deterioration in his mental health. That related to symptoms of depression. However, he also reported that he was currently well managed by antidepressant medication. The psychologist noted that Mr Bouwer had previously been seen by Mental Health Services but had then been discharged because of the improved management of his symptoms of low mood.
- The psychologist also commented on a diagnosis of stage 4 chronic kidney disease with a moderate deterioration in renal function over the past 12 months. This was said to be managed in a conservative manner given Mr Bouwer’s reasoning that it would be hypocritical, given that he ended his wife’s life, to engage in more intensive life‑prolonging intervention.
- During the psychological assessment, Mr Bouwer was said to have continued to maintain a belief that his wife was suffering from an undetected debilitating illness and that his actions in killing her had been a result of a prior agreement between him and his wife that should either of them develop a terminal illness the other would assist the ending of life. However, in line with previous reports, Mr Bouwer had acknowledged that while he disagreed with official information, particularly relating to his motives in causing the death, he had intentionally taken his wife’s life which he viewed as a criminal act. In discussion with the psychologist Mr Bouwer had become tearful and expressed shame and guilt associated with his behaviour.
- Overall, the psychologist assessed Mr Bouwer as having a low risk of violent or general re-offending.
- The psychologist reported that Mr Bouwer had completed the psychological intervention necessary for the development of a safety plan in line with his assessed low risk. As such no further psychological intervention was recommended.
- What the psychologist did recommend was that Mr Bouwer be encouraged to continue to engage with his support network and be supported by prison and health staff to manage his healthcare.
- The psychologist noted that Mr Bouwer had ceased opposition to the deportation order and had, in consequence, developed a plan for release to South Africa.
- For Mr Bouwer, (withheld) confirmed that he was seeking parole. (withheld) noted the completion of the necessary psychological work and the low risk assessment. He provided for us a letter from a family member in South Africa which confirmed accommodation and other support in what, apparently, is a pro-social environment. The material also indicated the prospect of employment, though it is doubtful whether Mr Bouwer will be able to be employed. Certainly, Mr Bouwer confirmed that his days of practising medicine were over. He was not permitted to do so in South Africa.
- Mr Bouwer told us that he expects further support in South Africa from the (withheld) Community.
- In discussion with us, Mr Bouwer was challenged on his current stance in relation to the murder. It is fair to say that not all of his answers seemed compelling, but we were left in no doubt that he accepts responsibility for his actions and acknowledges that his actions were wrong.
- We inquired about suggestions in a medical report that Mr Bouwer would not be fit to endure a long plane journey. (withheld) advised that the latest effort to have the deportation order cancelled was dealt with just two months ago and presumably the travel factor was taken into account with the deportation order confirmed.
- The Principal Corrections Officer confirmed that there were no problems with Mr Bouwer in the prison. Our understanding is that his behaviour has been exemplary.
- Looking at all of the information in front of us, we are satisfied that there is not undue risk to the community in South Africa given the nature of Mr Bouwer’s release proposals. We have had regard to the principles set out by the Court of Appeal in Va’alele.
- We are moving to the setting of standard conditions as set out in section 14 of the Parole Act 2002. We are also setting some special conditions which will be incompatible with the standard conditions. We are therefore suspending the standard conditions. That is in accordance with section 29AA(4) of the Parole Act.
- Mr Bouwer will be released on 11 October 2017. That is to allow sufficient time for appropriate travel arrangements to be made. If those arrangements can be put in place by an earlier date, then that earlier date may be taken as the date we specify for release.
- The special conditions are:
(1) To be released into the custody of the New Zealand Police or Immigration authorities for the purpose of immediate deportation from New Zealand.
(2) Not to return to New Zealand.
- The conditions will continue for life.