Moehau SMITH - 05/09/2019
Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002
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
- Moehau Smith (70) appears for consideration of parole on a three year nine month sentence for fraud. Mrs Smith was convicted alongside her daughter, Christine 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 Mrs Smith 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 Mrs Smith has a RoC*Rol of .02494, 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.
- For today’s hearing the Board have received a parole assessment report. There have been no issues in prison. Mrs Smith is described as compliant and respectful.
- While in prison Mrs Smith has completed the Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP). The report advises that Mrs Smith is committed to prosocial change and living an offence-free lifestyle. Completion of the SRP has made Mrs Smith more confident in her ability to analyse the causes of her offending and evaluate the best solutions to assess alternative choices.
- Unfortunately, the discussion with Mrs Smith today did not fill the Board with any degree of confidence that she has in fact analysed her offending and evaluated the best solutions so that she can maintain an offence-free lifestyle.
- Regarding her offending Mrs Smith told the Board that she should have known better. She said that IRD taught her to complete the GST returns and for a while a person from IRD checked them every month. She described her offending as having made a mistake. Everything went well for about 10 years (after her husband died) and then it went wrong.
- Ms Smith says that during the time of the offending she was involved in treaty work, completing a degree, taking care of family and looking after the farm. She did not feel able to ask her family for help.
- If she is released, Mrs Smith says that although she is intending to go back to the farm, she will no longer be responsible for the books. There are two farms. One is hers and the other belongs to her and her sister.
- Mrs Smith also explained that her sisters are unhappy with her being in prison. They blame her daughter [Christine] for the offending although she concedes that they were both responsible.
- In addition to saying that the offending was a mistake and that still sees the farms as her property, another aspect of the hearing which leaves the Board with some unease is that Mrs Smith maintained that she and her daughter had not discussed their release proposals. She stated to the Board that she did not know her daughter’s plans. This appeared at odds with the comments regarding their interdependence and Mrs Smith’s decision not to go to self-cares so that she could be there for her daughter.
- For today, it is not clear that Mrs Smith accepts her offending and that what she did was wrong. Mrs Smith seemed evasive and contradicted herself during the hearing. There also appears to be a dispute in the family, and it is not clear what impact that will have on Mrs Smith’s release proposal as well as that of her daughter. Nor is it clear what role Mrs Smith will play regarding the farms that she clearly still sees as hers.
- Despite that the Board acknowledges that Mrs Smith has a low RoC*Rol and is 70 years of age. If there was a robust release proposal and it was clear that the family were aware of the risks then it is expected that any residual risk could be managed.
- Today that robust release proposal has not been presented. Without that the Board are not satisfied that Mrs Smith no longer poses an undue risk. For today parole is declined.
- Mrs 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/whānau hui is held. The hui should discuss Mrs Smith, and her daughter’s offending, the release proposal together with the strategies to address any issues that may arise (particularly as Mrs Smith still sees the farms as her property).
T Williams Blyth