Alex BERGEN - 16/08/2019
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Alex Oliver BERGEN
Hearing: 16 August 2019
at Christchurch Prison
via AVL to New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington
Members of the Board:
- Judge G F Ellis (Panel Convenor)
- Mr J Thomson
- Mr A Hackney
- Ms T Aickin
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Alex Oliver Bergen is serving a sentence of two years, three months’ imprisonment on charges that being a prohibited person he was involved in the management of a company, and making a false statement. Those charges were brought under the Companies Act 1993.
- His sentence commencement date was 18 October 2018, parole eligibility date 13 April 2019, and his sentence expiry date 11 October 2020.
- Because of previous convictions for various frauds and perverting the course of justice, Mr Bergen was prohibited from being involved in the management of any company for a period of five years from January 2013 to January 2018. During 2017 he set up a company under another alias, entered into commercial transactions with no prospect of their being honoured.
- He has a very lengthy criminal offending history from 1992 including more than 120 previous convictions, nearly all for various forms of dishonesty, theft, fraud, deception, misuse of documents and charges of that nature, but also including an indecent assault and sexual violation of young males in 2007. His history also shows a number of breaches of bail and related conditions. It was made clear by the sentencing Judge that when in the community Mr Bergen’s default position is dishonesty.
- Mr Bergen was last before the Board on 18 April 2019. The Board noted that he was waitlisted for psychological intervention but it was not clear when that would occur. The Board required a report on his risk and rehabilitation pathway and an assessment of his release proposal.
- The Board now has a psychologist’s report dated 16 July 2019. In response to the request for an assessment, the psychologist reports that he is assessed at high risk of general offending and a moderate to high risk of sexual offending. He has been recommended for one-to-one psychological treatment but the report acknowledges that he is unlikely to get priority before sentence end date and therefore there is an alternative recommendation that he be referred for treatment on release.
- Mr Bergen was represented by counsel Ms Aickin who submitted on his behalf that he is ready for release; that there is a suitable residential address available for him; and that he has support in the community. Counsel referred to the acknowledgement in the psychologist’s report that he was unlikely to get priority for treatment and submitted that, if he were released now on parole conditions, including a condition for such treatment, that it was more likely to occur before his sentence end date.
- The Board was told that on a previous sentence Mr Bergen was released on conditions requiring psychological counselling, that there was a delay of some months before he saw a psychologist at which time, according to him, the psychologist indicated there was not sufficient time left on his sentence to do any meaningful work and it did not therefore occur.
- After consideration of all of the material before us, including a brief safety plan which Mr Bergen appears to have prepared himself and submitted to the Board dated 12 August 2019, and giving full weight to the submissions made by his counsel, the Board is not satisfied that Mr Bergen no longer poses an undue risk and therefore parole is declined.
- We have carefully considered whether release on such conditions as are recommended by counsel would mitigate that risk sufficiently to allow parole to be granted, but we have not been satisfied on that.
- We do take note of counsel’s submission that if Mr Bergen is not given priority, then the very treatment which the departmental psychologist has identified for him may not be provided during the term of his sentence. That is of concern to the Board and we strongly urge the Department of Corrections to act on the treatment recommendation of its own psychologist.
- Consideration was given to making psychological treatment a specified activity under section 21. That could not be employed unless the Board were satisfied that it was appropriate to keep Mr Bergen in detention for more than 12 months. The Board has not reached that position.
- The Board will see him again in 10 months, a date to be set before the end of June 2020.
Judge G F Ellis