John Grant FAGAN - 15/03/2018
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
John Grant FAGAN
Hearing: 15 March 2018
at Rimutaka Prison
Members of the Board:
- Hon J W Gendall QC – Panel convenor
- Mr G Crowley
- Mr M Quigg
Counsel: Mr P McKenzie-Bridle
- Mr T Graham – New Zealand Parole Board
- Mr J Ellingham – Manawatu Standard
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- John Grant Fagan is serving a sentence of five years and one month imprisonment, imposed through cumulative sentences, for crimes of forgery, fraud, kidnapping, and escaping from custody. He was sentenced on 30 September 2014, had a parole eligibility date of 16 June 2016 and his sentence end date is in 19 months, that is, 29 October 2019.
- Mr Fagan was last seen by the Board on 6 September 2017, when parole was declined. The Board requested an updated psychological report. It supported reintegration measures, including self-care and release to work (which at that time was progressing well).
- Since then, Mr Fagan has continued to work in a retail outlet in [withheld] on release to work and his employer speaks highly of him. He has had private psychological treatment on four occasions, between 2 February and 2 March. The Board has received a report from that Clinical Psychologist, [withheld].
- Mr Fagan’s release proposals are to reside with relatives in the Horowhenua District and to travel to and from there to [withheld] to pursue work opportunities that are currently the subject Release to Work. He envisaged that he would have weekly treatment meetings with [withheld].
- Counsel for Mr Fagan emphasised that he has been able to prove himself, developed insight and motivation to rehabilitate, and has strong family support. This was apparent at the whanau hui, which occurred on 7 March 2018.
- Mr Fagan has an unenviable conviction history totalling over 130 convictions. Approximately 100 are for fraud or forgery. Clearly he has in the past, been a major recidivist fraudster, with a unique ability to initially fool or deceive many people.
- He is assessed by one psychologist having a low/moderate risk of re-offending. His private treating psychologist states that he: “has shown motivation to want to change his behaviour and some insight into how his need for approval is often projected as being persistent and demanding. He has shown some commitment to exploring how his past may have influenced the development of his personality”.
- In his answers to Board questions today, Mr Fagan, naturally, was anxious to impress upon the Board his commitment to remain offence-free in the future but there were some elements of impression management. He accepts the advice that there be a continued treatment plan, but he and his counsel assert that it can take place whilst he is in the community.
- When it last saw him, the Board expressed the hope that a departmental report may provide some comments on Mr Fagan’s health issues because of earlier references to [withheld] and [withheld] but nothing further has been received. It is fair to say that his private psychologist does not see those matters as being relevant at the moment
- [withheld] says that a prolonged period of “one hour weekly treatment meetings … is considered necessary to allow Mr Fagan time to identify triggers to past offending and to reflect, assimilate and accommodate new coping strategies”.
- She says that that treatment could take place in the community and that: “Mr Fagan’s risk is higher in the community than when incarcerated and support to address everyday problems and situations would likely be required whenever Mr Fagan is released. Hence, having a prolonged period when he may be treated and effectively tested in the real-world environment with the proviso of recall should he re-offence may be the preferred treatment pathway”.
- We do not at present accept that proposition, that is, release into the community with a proviso that he could be recalled if unable to demonstrate sufficient gains from the continuing treatment. Release ought to not be predicated or based on recall being available, if not successful.
- Mr Fagan has made good progress but the Board has not yet been able to be satisfied that he would not pose an undue risk to the safety of the community, as is required by section 28 of the Parole Act 2002.
- We are of the view that a further period of positive engagement and reintegration activity is required given Mr Fagan’s criminogenic needs, index offending and the stage at which his rehabilitative and reintegrative progress have reached. We support further release to work at his retail employment in [withheld]; his continuing to reside in self-care, having guided releases to his supporters, family and those who will accommodate him. These measures are necessary to enable him to continue to display his progress and to reduce his risk to a level which enables release on parole. We would envisage a further period of six months before he is next seen.
- Parole is declined and he will be seen again in the month of September 2018, in any event, before 30 September 2018. It should not be taken as a “given” that parole would then be granted as that will be entirely for determination by the then panel and will depend upon all the circumstances then existing. At that time the Board will need a treatment report provided with the consent of Mr Fagan from a treating psychologist, which may either be the Departmental psychologist (or [withheld] if it can be funded).
Hon J W Gendall QC