Dennis SANDILANDS - 12/03/2019

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Dennis Ronald SANDILANDS

Hearing: 12 March 2019

at Christchurch Men’s Prison

Members of the Board:

  • Judge N MacLean – Panel Convenor
  • Assoc Prof. P Brinded
  • Ms G Hughes

Counsel:                                          

  • Ms T Aicken

Observer:

  • Mr L Pullan – Principal Psychologist

Support Persons:

  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]

DECISION OF THE BOARD

  1. Dennis Ronald Sandilands is before the Board for the eleventh time at age 56. He is serving a life sentence which commenced on 15 August 2000.
  2. He was released on parole on 12 September 2016, but recalled a very short time later.  The circumstances were that he had been released to [withheld] but as a result of developing tensions and mutual mistrust he was exited from that. He says that he struggled with the fact that there were a lot of child sex offenders there. He minimised some of the allegations that are in the papers about him threatening to burn the house down and that sort of thing.
  3. Some significant things have happened since his recall. There have been some behavioural issues including contraband which he describes as a stupid mistake but on the plus side there has been the ongoing support of [withheld] who he has been working with for some time and a restorative justice meeting with the victim’s family in October 2018.
  4. As his counsel Ms Aicken today noted, that was a gruelling and demanding experience for him but it is to his credit that he participated in that and it seems it gave the family some comfort.
  5. The previous Board in September 2018 was aware of his bipolar affective disorder type 2 and antisocial personality disorder and understood that he might be subject to a compulsory treatment order, if released.
  6. In fact things have moved on from there and we are reassured by the information both from his supporter today [withheld] who is a mental health nurse and also reports available to us that he is complying with the appropriate medication and is keeping in regular contact with the forensic mental health team with both a psychologist and a psychiatrist.  His understanding is that support will be ongoing even after release.
  7. [withheld] representative today confirmed that they have been working with Mr Sandilands for some time and are poised to provide ongoing wraparound support in conjunction with the arrangements proposed for his release into the extended family of [withheld] who appeared today and spoke on Mr Sandilands’ behalf as well.
  8. There is an impressive degree of prosocial support available for Mr Sandilands from [withheld].
  9. [withheld] noted that although he is 86 years old and is realistic about his ability for an extended period to be there for Mr Sandilands, but reassured the Board that there is ongoing support from the wider family in the cluster of houses that his family own.
  10. Mr Sandilands impressed as an articulate thoughtful man with considerable skills which he briefly alluded to particularly his interest and skill in carving. He emphasised to the Board that in his view he is a quite different person from the homeless Mongrel Mob member who committed the appalling offending for which he was convicted.
  11. The Board is left now in a position, particularly in note of an update of 18 March 2019, which reinforces the positive comments coming through to us, that Mr Sandilands, notwithstanding some lapses in behaviour, has got himself to a situation where there are good prospects that he can manage, stress situations including those where there is heightened emotion and that the factors that led to his misconduct have been identified.
  12. A letter from the senior clinical psychologist notes that the proposed treatment on release will focus on assisting him to strengthen the strategies he has learnt taking into account the frustrations of daily living that he will experience following his release.
  13. As far as that is concerned, another encouraging feature is that there is a real prospect of employment with [withheld], as well as the long-term accommodation complemented by the wraparound support from [withheld].
  14. The Board then is in a position where it is satisfied that the risk to the community would not be undue if he was released now with the appropriate release conditions as set out below.  He will be released on 1 April 2019.
  15. In light of the long period in custody and the difficulties that he is inevitably going to face with reintegration, having had no guided release to date, we are requiring that there be an attended monitoring hearing in September 2019, just to review the conditions and check in on progress.
  16. With respect to the abstinence provision we reminded him of the implications of that in terms of being subject to random testing and/or monitoring if required. Our understanding would be, however, that if he was working at [withheld] he would be subject to regular testing anyway.
  17. The special conditions are:

    (1) To attend appointments with a mental health provider as directed by a Probation Officer.

    (2) To attend, participate in, and complete any treatment or counselling directed by a Probation Officer.

    (3) To attend a psychological assessment and attend, participate in and complete any recommended treatment as directed by a Probation Officer.

    (4) To reside at [withheld] and not move from that address unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.

    (5) 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.

    (6) Subject to section 15(5) of the Parole Act 2002, to take any medication prescribed by a health professional in accordance with any directions given by the health professional.

    (7) Not to have contact or otherwise associate, with any victim of your offending, [including previous offending] directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.

    (8) Not to communicate or associate with Mongrel Mob gang members and associates, unless given prior permission by a Probation Officer.

    (9) 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.

    (10) Not to possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.

    (11) 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 N MacLean
Panel Convenor