Bruce Allan DARROCH -12/12/2017
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Bruce Allan DARROCH
Hearing: 12 December 2017
at [withheld] via AVL to NZPB Offices, Wellington
Decision: 18 December 2017
Members of the Board:
- Hon. M A Frater – Panel Convenor
- Ms F Pimm
- Ms M More
RESERVED DECISION OF THE BOARD
- 52 year old Bruce Allan Darroch is serving a total effective sentence of two years six and a half months imprisonment. He was found guilty following a Judge-alone trial on two charges under the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act 1993 – making an objectionable publication, and possession of objectionable material, and sentenced to two years and four months on each charge. The remaining two charges, on which he was sentenced to two and a half months, cumulative, were that he failed, without reasonable excuse, to assist in a search warrant in that he failed to provide passwords that were requested of him.
- Mr Darroch was sentenced on 24 June 2016. His parole eligibility date was 24 April this year, and his sentence ends on 6 January 2019.
- Mr Darroch was, for many years, the principal of a rural primary school. The victims of his offending were 11 pupils from his school, photographs and videos of whom he exchanged with a man in the United States who administered a secure anonymous chat programme, and in respect of whom he described sexually deviant activities, he had, or wanted, to engage in.
- The second charge related to some 477 photographic files elicited from a pen drive. Mr Darroch said the man, known as “Wesley”, emailed the files to him, and he downloaded them.
- The sentencing Judge said that these depicted naked children, mostly male, often exposing their genitals; Twenty seven of the images were said to concern children engaged in penetrative sexual activity, and one image, of a very young girl, was described as clearly a sadistic or bondage photograph. Mr Darroch denied seeing these particular images.
- He has no previous convictions.
- The Board which he appeared before in April this year, in anticipation of his parole eligibility date, was satisfied “by a wide margin” that as a sexual offender Mr Darroch needed formal treatment in prison. In declining parole, they invoked the section 21 A process and identified the Short Intervention Programme for Child Sex Offenders as a relevant that they required to be successfully completed before the next hearing, which they scheduled for June 2018.
- In the event, Mr Darroch completed that programme by the end of July. He was therefore able to apply, successfully, under section 26 of the Parole Act to be seen at an earlier hearing.
- At the end of September Mr Darroch was transferred to [withheld], to be nearer [withheld], where he hopes to be released.
- Due to a misunderstanding, his lawyer, [withheld], was not available when today’s hearing began. Accordingly, it was stood down to the end of the day and proceeded with [withheld] being linked in by telephone from [withheld] to [withheld].
- As the hearing took longer than anticipated and we required further time to consider the matter, we reserved our decision.
- Having considered all the evidence, including a psychological assessment report dated 17 August 2017, a submission from the mother of one of the victims, which was shown to Mr Darroch, and having regard to his responses to us in our discussion with him, and the exchanges with his two supporters, we are satisfied that his assessed low risk to the safety of the community, and vulnerable young people in particular, can be managed during the year remaining on his sentence, provided he engages openly and honestly with his probation officer and his support people and complies with the conditions which we will impose.
- While Mr Darroch continues to minimise the sexual motivation in his offending and to assert that his deviant sexual interest was limited to his online conversations and had no influence on other aspects of his life, we were impressed by the strength of his support group, which extends to 10 people and includes, as well as family members, long time friends and a [withheld] psychotherapist with whom he worked prior to being imprisoned.
- We note that there is no suggestion that Mr Darroch reoffended, or in any way breached his conditions during the 20 months that he was on bail, subject to electronic monitoring, awaiting trial.
- His mother’s home, which he proposes returning to, has been deemed suitable for release purpose, notwithstanding the proximity of schools, provided he is once again subject to GPS monitoring.
- Accordingly, Mr Darroch will be released on Parole on Monday 15 January 2018, subject to the standard conditions set out in section 14 of the Parole Act, and the following special conditions. Unless otherwise specified, all conditions will continue for 6 months past his statutory release date ie until 5 July 2019.
- In addition to the conditions suggested by Community Corrections, we have included residential, employment and monitoring conditions, and also a condition prohibiting him from entering South Waikato, where he offended, and where, we assume, his victims still live.
- We have included the employment condition because Mr Darroch plans, in due course, to buy and operate a café with a friend. In our view that gives rise to potential problems about access to young people, and also computers and other electronic technology.
- Because of those concerns and because of the reservations expressed by the psychologist about Mr Darroch’s cognitive rigidity, we are requiring him to attend for a monitoring hearing in July 2018 to review his progress on parole and, in particular, his safety plan and his views about his offending. The ongoing need for GPS monitoring can also be reviewed then. A report from his probation officer is required for the hearing, which will be held at the local offices of Community Corrections by AVL to the New Zealand Parole Board.
- Finally, we note that we also expect a reintegration meeting, convened by his probation officer, to be held within a short time (no more than a month) after his release. Attendees should include, as well as his probation officer and his therapist, all, or most of those in the support group identified by him. We expect that, if he has not already done so, Mr Darroch will provide his supporters with copies not only of his sentencing notes, but also his parole assessment report, this decision and, importantly, the recent psychological report, prior to that meeting, so that this material can be discussed at it and he can be challenged about it. In addition, we expect neighbours and the principals of nearby schools to be informed of his presence in their neighbourhood. Mr Darroch said that he believed most were well aware of his offending, so this should not give rise to any problems.
- The special conditions are:-
(1) To reside at [withheld] and not move from that address, or any subsequently approved address, without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(2) To undertake and complete any safety planning, counselling or treatment directed by you Probation Officer to the satisfaction of your Probation Officer.
(3) You are not to possess or use any electronic device capable of accessing the internet, or capturing, storing, accessing or distributing images (including without limitation any personal computers, notebooks, tablets, cell phones or cameras) without the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(4) Not to enter, or loiter within the grounds of any schools, preschools, parks, playgrounds, or other public places where children under the age of 16 years are likely to congregate for any purpose unless under the supervision of an adult approved in writing by the Probation Officer or unless there is prior approval in writing from the Probation Officer.
(5) Not to associate or otherwise have contact with any person under the age of 16 years of age unless another adult, over the age of 20 years who has previously been approved in writing by your Probation Officer, is present.
(6) Not to enter South Waikato, as defined on a map provided by your Probation Officer unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(7) To submit to electronic monitoring in the form of Global Positioning System (GPS) technology as directed by a Probation Officer in order to monitor your compliance with any condition(s) relating to your whereabouts.
(8) To notify a Probation Officer before starting, terminating or changing your position or place of employment
(9) Not to have contact or otherwise associate with the victim(s) of your offending, directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written consent of your Probation Officer.
(10) To comply with any direction made under section 29B(2)(b) of the Parole Act 2002 to attend a hearing at a time and place to be notified to you, to enable the Parole Board to monitor your compliance with your release conditions.
Hon. M A Frater