Carol Tui SOMMERVILLE - 29/01/2019

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002


Hearing: 29 January 2019

at Arohata Prison

Members of the Board:

  • Mr N Trendle (Panel Convenor)
  • Mr A Hackney
  • Ms M More


  1. Carol Sommerville is serving a sentence of three years nine months’ imprisonment for arson.  She has 14 months remaining on that sentence with a statutory release date of 26 March 2020.
  2. Ms Sommerville’s RoC*RoI has recently been recalculated to 0.37081.  She has accumulated some 50 convictions since 1980, including 21 convictions for arson-related offending.  This is her fourth term of imprisonment.
  3. Since Ms Sommerville was last before the Board, she has successfully completed the Kowhiritanga programme.  That was recommended by the psychologist when she was assessed in December 2017.  As a consequence, Ms Sommerville has completed a safety plan which she brought with her today.
  4. At this point, Ms Sommerville has no release plan to put before the Board.  She told us that she will shortly have a telephone interview with a representative from [withheld] as to her eligibility.  [withheld] are aware of her history and have accepted her for the interview process.  Notwithstanding her history of fire setting, Ms Sommerville was at pains to emphasise that she has never burnt down her own accommodation.  She did, however, acknowledge her difficulty managing anger.
  5. Ms Sommerville told us she gained much from her participation in Kowhiritanga.  She said she was exposed to cognitive behavioural therapy for the first time and learnt skills such as stop, think and do.  Previously, she has had entrenched patterns of negative thinking.  She told us she believes she now has strategies to de-escalate anger when it occurs.
  6. There are no issues with Ms Sommerville’s conduct or compliance.  Her Principal Corrections Officer spoke of an increasing ability to handle disappointment and frustration.
  7. We note Ms Sommerville engaged in treatment with a psychologist some time ago, but she has now completed Kowhiritanga.  Arising from our conversation with her today, we are not satisfied that the Kowhiritanga intervention alone satisfactorily equips Ms Sommerville with the tools necessary to mitigate her risk.  Her history of fire-setting can only be seen as extreme.  While she is motivated and appears comfortable grasping theory, her ability to control her anger over the years has been somewhat problematic.  To identify what further work may be required, we support a referral to a psychologist for work to supplement the Kowhiritanga programme.  Whilst that was not a direct recommendation in the psychological report dated 22 December 2017, it seems absolutely essential to the Board that Ms Somerville undertakes any residual counselling or other work that may be required to cement in the gains that appear to have been made on this sentence.  Reintegration activities are also supported.
  8. Parole today is declined.  Ms Sommerville will be scheduled to return to the Board in nine months, by 30 October 2019.  For that hearing, we request an updating psychological addendum on the progress made in treatment with recommendations as to any further rehabilitation or reintegration activities that appear indicated.

Mr N Trendle
Panel Convenor