Raymond Wahia RATIMA - 28/09/2017
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing for Postponement Order
27(4)(b) of the Parole Act 2002
Raymond Wahia RATIMA
Hearing: 28 September 2017
Members of the Board:
- Hon. M A Frater (Panel Convenor)
- Assoc. Prof. P Brinded
- Ms F Pimm
- Mr D Hauraki
In attendance: (withheld) – Corrections Psychologist
Support Person: (withheld)
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Raymond Wahia Ratima is serving seven life sentences of imprisonment for murder. He was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for murdering an unborn child, and seven years for attempted murder. He was sentenced on 4 September 1992 and has now spent over 25 years in custody – half his life. He was 25 when he committed these dreadful crimes. He is now 50.
- The two issues for consideration by the Board today were parole and, if that was not granted, postponement.
- Over the years Mr Ratima has been subject to four postponement orders. The most recent was made on 4 February 2015. That was of three years duration from 3 November 2014, when parole was last declined.
- Since that postponement order was made, the law has changed. From 2 September 2015 onwards the Board is no longer obliged to schedule an offender for a parole hearing within 12 months of their last hearing. The Board is now only required to see them at least once every two years, unless they are subject to a postponement order, or the other circumstances, set out in section 21(2), of the Parole Act 2002 apply.
- Whereas previously, postponement orders for offenders subject to indeterminate sentences could be for between one and three years duration, they can now be for up to five years from the offender’s most recent parole hearing.
- Mr Ratima did not seek parole today. He did, however, oppose the making of a postponement order and sought the Board’s support for engagement in further reintegrative activities, including, if possible, release to work.
- Mr Ratima is currently housed in (withheld).
- He has a RoC*RoI of 0.59175 and has maintained the minimum security classification he first obtained in September 2011. He is employed in (withheld), working as a foreman for the plastering team. Both the quality of his work and his work ethic are said to be excellent.
- Over the years since his last substantive hearing, he has undertaken many hours of individual psychological treatment, in the course of which he has developed a safety plan.
- He has also been keen to develop his cultural knowledge. To assist him in that he has been referred to (withheld), and (withheld) from that organisation appeared today, in support. They have been working together since June. In total they have had some seven sessions of half an hour to an hour’s duration, including a recent guided release to (withheld).
- Mr Ratima also has occasional informal contact with (withheld), who he worked with in a therapeutic relationship, using the bicultural therapy model, over an extended period.
- The Board which saw Mr Ratima on 3 November 2014 noted that although he had engaged in considerable individual psychological therapy, he had not yet reached the point where he could talk about his offending.
- It seems that in recent years he has been able to do that.
- (withheld), who wrote the current Psychological assessment report for the Board, noted that in the course of the individual treatment sessions with (withheld), which continued from February 2014 until June 2016, the focus was on “Mr Ratima’s interpersonal style and assertiveness, rumination and problem solving, his offence process and safety planning”.
- The treatment is said to have involved a detailed revisiting of his index offending, which had, at times, been emotionally distressing for him.
- Mr Ratima has not found prison easy. He has been in a long time. He said it has been a lonely experience and at times he has struggled. He has had to deal with physical violence from other prisoners, but says that has only made him stronger.
- He has been assessed as posing a moderate risk of violent re-offending.
- No further offence-focussed psychological interventions are recommended at this time. Rather, (withheld) said that he would benefit from participating in reintegrative activities, including a return to a self-care unit and gradual exposure to the wider community, and involvement in culturally oriented activities.
- The (withheld) visit was the first of these.
- Mr Ratima is said to have behaved appropriately during this visit and benefitted from it. He said he felt safe there and enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people.
- He told us that he would like to spend more time on a marae to share what he has learned, to help Māori to deal with what he saw as a major problem with child abuse.
- It concerned us that Mr Ratima thought that this was a feasible and appropriate thing for someone with his background to do.
- We challenged him about this, but he could not acknowledge that his offending included violent ‘abuse’ of the 5 children he killed. He said that he had not hit his children, nor had he been subject to abuse himself, and could not seem to see how he was the ultimate abuser.
- While we accept that Mr Ratima has been well behaved in custody and has completed all recommended treatment at this stage, it does not follow that he is safe to go into the community.
- The psychological report writer assessed Mr Ratima as possessing, “sufficient intellectual knowledge, if appropriately applied, to avoid or manage relevant high risk situations, at least within the prison setting.”
- However, it is important to note his proviso that, “Significant caution is required when extrapolating from his conduct within prison where he is subject to close supervision and provided with overt encouragement to manage himself well, and the circumstances that he would encounter if ever released to the wider community.”
- There is no entitlement to parole (section 28(1AA)) Nor, it seems to us, is there any entitlement to reintegration. It comes back to the question of risk. In our view any exposure of Mr Ratima to the community needs to be carefully considered and taken very carefully and slowly. It does not follow, simply because he can go into the community, for example accompanied by a reintegration worker such as (withheld), that he should.
- He should only be released into the community with people who have a full understanding of his offending and his risk. That person also needs to understand Mr Ratima’s profile and the need for extreme care.
- Mr Ratima has expressed the wish that, if, or when, he is eventually released, it be through a supported accommodation service such as that provided by (withheld) It may well be that that is appropriate at some time in the distant future. Or it may never be.
- Section 27(1)(6) provides that, “The Board may make an order postponing consideration of an offender for parole if the Board is satisfied that, in the absence of a significant change in the offender’s circumstances, the offender will not be suitable for release for the duration of the postponement order.”
- For the reasons given above, we do not believe that Mr Ratima will be suitable for release for at least four years.
- Accordingly, parole is declined and we make a postponement order of four years duration. That means that Mr Ratima’s next hearing must be held before 28 September 2021.
- Of course he can apply under (section 27(6), requesting an earlier consideration of parole, if he believes that there has been a significant change in his circumstances in the meantime.
Hon. M A Frater