Angelo BITOSSI - 13/11/2019
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Angelo Dominic BITOSSI
Hearing: Wednesday 13 November 2019
At Rimutaka Prison
Members of the Board:
- Judge G F Ellis (Panel Convenor)
- Mr L Tawera
- Mr A Hackney
- Ms S Shone
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Angelo Dominic Bitossi was sentenced to eight years and six months’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of four years and three months for arson. He has done five and a half years of that sentence.
- His sentence commencement date was 5 February 2015, parole eligibility date 2 August 2018 and his sentence expiry date is 1 November 2022.
- Mr Bitossi set fire to a storage facility in Wellington, causing extensive loss to more than 300 victims. He was motivated by revenge against a former friend. It was accepted that his immediate intent was to burn in only the storage locker of his former friend but it was foreseeable that the fire would spread as it did to damage the entire facility.
- He has an extensive offending history, more than 100 convictions, including over 40 for property related offences and more than 20 for drugs and antisocial behaviour.
- His underlying risk factors are identified as offending supportive attitudes and associates and entitlement, alcohol and drugs and impulsivity.
- He was last before the Board on 16 August 2018. The Board noted then that he had been working with a psychologist and at that stage had done more than 70 one-to-one sessions. The Board had an independent psychologist’s report. It was expected that he would continue with treatment and develop a sound release plan. He was not, at that time seeking release on parole but expected to work on his reintegration path.
- The parole assessment report now before us tells us that he has completed his psychological sessions and has developed a safety plan. In fact we are told that Mr Bitossi engaged in 85 individual treatment sessions with a departmental psychologist between 14 February 2017 and 1 October 2018. That treatment ceased only when the previous treating psychologist left the department.
- Subsequently he engaged in a further 38 individual treatment sessions between 14 November 2018 and 21 October 2019 with a further departmental psychologist. That psychologist reported on 4 November 2019 that, in her opinion, Mr Bitossi had completed the core phase of treatment and is now considered to be in a maintenance phase.
- At paragraph 16 of that treatment report, the report writer states:
“[withheld]. He has a high level of insight into himself, his emotions and triggers and associated reactions (indicating his offending behaviours). It is considered by the writer that Mr Bitossi has completed the core phase of treatment and further treatment will be consolidation maintenance work. Should Mr Bitossi follow his safety plan, this will assist him on his desistence pathway.”
- The parole assessment report confirms that Mr Bitossi had undergone an education assessment which indicated need for assistance from the Howard League. Mr Bitossi has accommodation available with [withheld] and that has been approved as suitable. He has an offer of a job immediately available to him with a business specialising in [withheld] and a representative of that employer was present at the hearing to confirm that they are keen to take him on.
- He had support at this hearing from [withheld] and the Board has before it, numerous letters and testimonials from family members and supporters in the community.
- It is clear from the material before the Board that Mr Bitossi is now in the reintegration phase of his sentence. He has strong family and community support and he has the very positive protective factors of good accommodation and employment available to him. The Board seriously considered in its discussion with Mr Bitossi and his counsel whether he would normally, at this phase of his sentence, be expected to undergo a period of reintegration activity, including work outside the wire, Self-Care and release to work.
- The corrections officer present confirmed that he had been approved for work outside the wire for six months already but, because of a backlog, he had not yet been offered the opportunity for such work. Similarly, he has been on a waitlist for Self-Care but a place has not been available to him and the officer was unable to predict when such a place might reasonably be expected. We were told he would have to do at least three months of work outside the wire before he would be considered for release to work.
- On balance therefore, the Board has concluded that the positive and protective influences of accommodation and paid employment immediately available to him, outweighed the potential downside of keeping him in custody without any further rehabilitative programme before him and experiencing the frustration of not being able to advance with his reintegration.
- On consideration of all of the available material, the Board is now satisfied that, if released on the conditions proposed, Mr Bitossi will no longer pose an undue risk.
- He will therefore be released on 27 November 2019.
- He will be subject to standard and special conditions to sentence expiry date. We have added requirement of a progress monitoring hearing after six months. This has regard to the unique combination of Mr Bitossi’s particular circumstances, including the seriousness of his offending, the number of victims involved, the length and complexity of his treatment history, the time left on his sentence, and the absence (for no fault of his) of what might otherwise be considered a normal reintegration pathway within a reasonable time-frame.
- Special conditions otherwise are as set out below:
- The following special conditions are now imposed:
(1) To attend a reintegration meeting as directed by a probation officer.
(2) To reside at [withheld] or any other address approved in writing by a Probation Officer, and not move from that address unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(3) To be at your approved address between the hours of 10.00pm and 6.00am daily unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(4) To attend an alcohol and drug assessment, and attend, participate in and complete any treatment or counselling directed by a Probation Officer.
(5) To attend a psychological assessment and attend, participate in and complete any recommended treatment as directed by a Probation Officer.
(6) To obtain the written approval of a Probation Officer before starting or changing your position and/or place of employment (including voluntary and unpaid work). To notify a Probation Officer if you leave your position of employment.
(7) Not to possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.
(8) In not more than six months, before the end of May 2020, 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.
Please note: you may be required to undergo a drug or alcohol test and or submit to drug or alcohol monitoring.
Judge G F Ellis