Christine SMITH - 05/09/2019
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
Christine Tracy SMITH
Hearing: 5 September 2019
at Auckland Region Women’s Corrections Facility
via AVL from Christchurch Women’s Prison
Members of the Board:
- Ms T Williams Blyth – Panel Convenor
- Ms G Hughes
- Mr J Thomson
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Christine Smith (46) appears for consideration of parole on a three year nine month sentence for fraud. Ms Smith was convicted alongside her mother, Moehau Smith.
- The fraud involved the filing of 49 false GST returns through four farming entities. The offending occurred over a 21-month period during which Ms Smith and her mother claimed refunds amounting to $1.5 million. A total of 1.3 million was received. The Court described it as substantial fraud over a brief period.
- In prison Ms Smith has a RoC*Rol of .03712, a prison security classification of minimum and a statutory release date of 26 March 2022. There is approximately two years six months remaining on her sentence.
- The Board has received a parole assessment report for today’s hearing. There have been no issues in prison and Ms Smith is described as compliant and respectful.
- Ms Smith has been engaged in the Kowhiritanga rehabilitation programme. During the programme she has recognised the role her emotions played during her offending. She acknowledged that managing finances is a high-risk situation. Her acknowledgment is tempered by Ms Smith blaming external factors for her offending and placing little culpability on her own management.
- Unfortunately, the discussion today with Ms Smith did not fill the Board with any degree of confidence that she has in fact analysed or taken responsibility for her offending.
- During the discussion Ms Smith said that she made a number of mistakes and accepted that she was responsible for those mistakes, which made her guilty. She said that she was naïve. It is fair to say that Ms Smith’s recollection of her offending was disconcerting. She maintains that the GST returns were accurate when they left her. Her and her mum did things by the book.
- Further on in the discussion, Ms Smith said that the numbers entered [in the GST claims] were a mistake but maintained that she got the numbers from the invoices. Ms Smith later admitted that the numbers came out of her head, it wasn’t right and that the amounts entered were intentional. Ms Smith accepted that she made up the amounts but says she was very stressed. This led her to make irrational decisions.
- Regarding rehabilitation, Ms Smith said that there were elements of Kowhiritanga that she liked particularly offence mapping, changing core beliefs and Whare Tapa Wha. A lot of thought has been put into her safety and release plans.
- The time invested in release planning was not apparent to the Board. Ms Smith told the Board that she and her mother had intensively discussed her [Christine Smith’s] release proposal. Initially [withheld] was put forward but then she was asked to put forward another option in [withheld]. Ms Smith said she was a church going person.
- Before meeting with Ms Smith, the Board saw Mrs Moehau Smith. Ms Smith’s korero to the Board was in stark contrast to that of her mother. Mrs Moehau Smith maintained that she and her daughter had not discussed Christine’s release proposal. Mrs Moehau Smith was clear in stating that she did not know what Christine had planned.
- Another issue for Ms Smith that has yet to be resolved is Ms Smith’s relationship with her whānau as well as any future involvement with the farms. Ms Smith acknowledged that her relationship with her external whānau, her Mum and her Mum’s sisters are fractured. She has tried to work on it but the whānau are very upset with her and what happened.
- With regard to the farms themselves, Ms Smith says that they are land banked for settlement so there is no risk to the whānau of losing them.
- There are matters that give the Board cause for concern, including Ms Smith’s explanation of her offending which was confused, and she does not seem to accept responsibility for what she did. In addition, aspects of her presentation today were at odds with what her mother had earlier told the Board.
- This leaves the Board with little confidence in Ms Smith or her release proposal.
- Heoi anō, Ms Smith has yet to complete the kowhiritanga maintenance and her release proposal requires more work. Until both those matters have been addressed the Board considers that Ms Smith remains an undue risk and parole is declined.
- Ms Smith will be seen for further consideration of parole in December 2019 and no later than 30 December 2019.
- Before the next hearing the Board requests that a reintegration take place. There should be a clear discussion regarding Ms Smith’s offending, her release proposal, her safety plan and the plan going forward. Given the contradictory nature of information provided by both Ms Smith and her mother at the hearing, it may assist if there was one reintegration hui for both whānau members.
T Williams Blyth