David WITCHALL - 12/09/2019
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
David Michael WITCHALL
Hearing: 12 September 2019
at Otago Corrections Facility
via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington
Members of the Board:
- Sir Ron Young (Chairperson)
- Mr M Quigg
- Mr A Hackney
- Ms K McIvor (Senior Advisor Parole Ready)
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Mr Witchall was sentenced to nine years and four months’ imprisonment for rape, assault with intent to rape, indecent assaults and sexual grooming. All involved young women, some in their early teens, some even younger. He has a final release date of January 2024. This is the first time Mr Witchall has appeared before the Board on these charges.
- He does have a long history of previous convictions involving violence and property and has been to prison previously. He is now 30 years of age, his security classification is high and he is not due for a reclassification until January 2020.
- As far as the facts are concerned there were five victims. The offending involved sexual grooming of a number of young victims between 14 and 16 years of age and then, following that, opportunistic sexual assaults. One of them eventually led to the rape of a young person. He was offending when subject to a previous sentence. He also committed two assaults in prison in 2014 and 2015; one which involved vicious kicking of another prisoner.
- As far as the current position is concerned, the psychological report emphasises Mr Witchall’s rapid re-offending after his last imprisonment. The psychologist’s report notes an admission of sexual offending, admitting one offence but denying the rest. When we talked with Mr Witchall today he said that he did admit an assault with intent to injure charge which arose in the context of the sexual offending but denied all of the sexual offending, including the rape.
- He has had 10 misconduct charges since he has been in prison, mostly involving violence or aggression and overall he has had very poor conduct. Some of the objectionable conduct includes sexualised conduct.
- He has been back at the Otago Corrections Facility for the last two months and it seems his behaviour has improved while he has been there.
- He is listed for the Child Sex Offender Treatment Programme but there are currently two impediments. First, he is on high [security] classification and secondly, he denies the offending.
- Mr Witchall is at high risk of re-offending, both sexually and with respect to violence. Mr Witchall remains an undue risk and cannot be released. Currently it is difficult to see the way forward for him. He is behaving poorly in prison and does not have an immediate and obvious rehabilitative pathway toward release. He will need to reconsider his view of the offending and his case manager and the psychologist will need to try and work with him to see if there are alternative rehabilitation programmes.
- We think a further report from a psychologist, when he returns to see us in two years’ time in August 2021, would be helpful to see if any progress has been made. In the meantime he remains an undue risk.
Sir Ron Young