Gareth Lawrence SMITHER - 28/05/2019

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Gareth Lawrence SMITHER

Hearing: 28 May 2019

at Christchurch Men’s Prison

Members of the Board:

  • Sir Ron Young – Chairperson
  • Mr N Trendle
  • Mr J Thomson
  • Assoc Prof. P Brinded


  • Mr A Bailey


  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]


  1. Mr Smither was convicted of murder in 1997 and indecent assault and was sentenced to life imprisonment. He is on minimum security classification. He essentially had no previous convictions when he committed the murder.
  2. We last saw him in May 2018. At that stage he had just come back to prison after five years at [withheld]. The suggestion then was a possible long‑term release to [withheld] but he needed to illustrate that he could have a stable period with respect to his mental health. The Board noted a slow, careful reintegration was appropriate and continued review by the forensic team.
  3. As to the current position, the psychological report notes that for the last 12 months he has been in the Self Care Unit and has done well. He has had employment both inside and, more recently, working outside the wire half‑time.
  4. The psychologist’s report notes that residence at [withheld] was a feasible plan, perhaps the only current one, but was dependent on [withheld] accepting him. We have heard today from [withheld] that they are prepared to accept him but stress that that should be at Mr Smither’s pace. Further, it was noted that close supervision was required of Mr Smither, especially with respect to his mental health.
  5. We have also a letter from a [withheld], who is a consultant psychiatrist, identifying how the forensic team would look after Mr Smither should he be released to [withheld]. The letter is reassuring and clearly identifies the need for regular contact with Mr Smither, both if and when he is released to [withheld] and also the longer term. It gives us significant reassurance as far as Mr Smither is concerned.
  6. Further, Mr Smither is now on the Navigate programme and has had a number of escorted releases to [withheld]. In addition he has had a number of escorted releases to go shopping in the community over the last eight months.
  7. All in all we think Mr Smither is working towards a sensible and appropriate reintegration plan and to a release to [withheld], but we also commend him for not rushing that possibility. He has today not sought parole. He is happy to continue with his current progress for the next six months with regular visits to [withheld]. There has been a suggestion of some overnight stays at [withheld] which presumably will be dependent upon Corrections agreeing.
  8. In any event, today, given Mr Smither is not seeking parole, we are satisfied he remains an undue risk and we will not release him today. We think the path ahead for him is clear. We will see him again by at the latest the end of the next session dealing with the Extended Board southern region, by 6 December 2019.
  9. We also think it would be advantageous for a reintegration hui to take place prior to the next hearing in December. This should involve not just the professionals but also all of the supportive [withheld] who might provide support for Mr Smither.

Sir Ron Young