Scott MILLAR - 15/11/2019
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Scott David MILLAR
Hearing: 15 November 2019
at Otago Corrections Facility
Members of the Board:
- Ms M Coleman – Panel Convenor
- Mr S Perry
- Ms F Pimm
- Ms F Guy Kidd QC
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Scott David Millar, who is 21, appeared before the Board today for further consideration of parole on a three year 10 month sentence for manslaughter and reckless driving causing injury.
- The victim of the manslaughter offence was Mr Millar’s best friend. Mr Millar was driving dangerously while heavily intoxicated. When sentencing him, the Judge said that nothing can be said to mitigate just how bad this driving was.
- Mr Millar’s statutory release date is 22 December 2021.
- Mr Millar was last before the Board in June 2019. He had just commenced the Drug Treatment Programme (DTP) after completing the Short Rehabilitation Programme (SRP). Mr Millar questioned the need to do the DTP but the Board was clear that two incidents of alcohol-affected driving in such a short period of time, together with the use of cannabis in prison, indicated the seriousness of Mr Millar’s underlying substance use issues.
- The last Board also noted in its decision that it had met with the parents of the victim. The parents expressed concern about a number of issues including that Mr Millar proposed to return to the Alexandra region. As the Board said, Alexandra is not a large town and the prospects of contact with [withheld] would be very high and would create further difficulty. The Board was clear in its decision that it is required to have due regard to their views.
- It was surprising therefore today that Mr Millar was proposing to reside in Alexandra, albeit he would be a little bit further away until after Christmas when his job in [withheld] was to start up. Mr Millar said that he felt that Alexandra was the best place for him to live because he had strong support with his [withheld] and work [withheld]. He accepted on further discussion with the Board that [withheld] should not feel that he had to leave Central Otago because he found it difficult to reside in the same area as Mr Millar. Mr Millar said that he had plans in place as to how he would react if he were to inadvertently come into contact with [withheld]. His prospective employer is also mindful of the possibility of contact and will not place Mr Millar on jobs where [withheld] will also be working. The fact that there is a need for those plans indicates just how real the prospect of contact is. They would be living in the same town, potentially socialising with the same people and working in jobs where interaction may arise. Even the prospect of inadvertent contact is likely to be highly stressful for [withheld].
- These issues were raised with Mr Millar in part because the Board met again with the victim’s parents this morning. They were clear that if Mr Millar respected Ravineel, who died as a result of Mr Millar’s actions, he would serve his whole sentence. They also regard it as essential for the wellbeing of [withheld] and because of the conflicts that it would create within the friend group, that Mr Millar not return to the Central Otago region. They also feel that given Mr Millar’s history of drinking and driving that he is not safe to release to the community in any event.
- There was also some discussion again today about the failure of the family to be in touch with them at the time of the death. Mr and Mrs Sharma also considered that later contact was a simply an attempt to reduce the sentence that otherwise may be imposed. They viewed the payment of reparation in this light also and accepted it only because they were told that the reduction in sentence would be made whether or not they did so. That money sits in a bank account and has not been used. For their part [withheld] dispute that they had not been in contact at the time of the death. [withheld]. Mr Millar himself said that he sent a card to the family, which Mr and Mrs Sharma acknowledge they did receive. As the last Board noted in its decision, where the truth lies is not a matter that we can get to grips with. What we simply say for now is that the feelings of Mr and Mrs Sharma are understandable in terms of the loss that they have suffered and the grief they are still dealing with.
- What all of this demonstrates is that a release to Central Otago is a highly charged matter. We are bound to give due weight to the views of the victims. Whilst we acknowledge the submission of Ms Guy Kidd QC that our primary concern is with risk and community safety, in our view releasing Mr Millar to Central Otago would be to give the victims’ views no weight whatsoever. Further, as was advised to Mr Millar today, the community includes [withheld] and there is no doubt that it would be very distressing were he to be released back into that community now.
- For all those reasons the Board advised Mr Millar today that he needs to come up with a release proposal that does not include living or working in Central Otago.
- We mention now for the sake of completeness that Ms Guy Kidd QC also submitted there was no need for the proposed special conditions to run for six months past the statutory release date. The Board disagrees. First, there is no doubt that the whereabouts condition running for six months past his statutory release date would provide comfort to the family and would provide more time for [withheld] to gain further maturity so that he is able to deal better with contact. Second, it also would provide a further six month period during which Mr Millar would be prohibited from consuming alcohol.
- In that regard it was deeply concerning today that Mr Millar was not able to articulate why he intended to drink socially once he was permitted to do so. The question was asked because we wanted to understand what insight Mr Millar was able to gain into his own substance use. This was not the only question that Mr Millar was unable to answer. While we appreciate he was nervous, those failures along with the release proposal put forward raises a question as to whether Mr Millar needs further treatment in relation to entitlement issues, victim empathy and substance use. We invite the prison to provide Mr Millar with the opportunity to work on those issues before his next hearing.
- Parole today is declined. Mr Millar will be seen again in March 2020 and by the end of March 2020 at the latest.
- On 19 November 2019 Mr Millar was successful in an appeal against the sentence imposed which has now been reduced to three years and three months. His statutory release date is now 21 May 2021.
Ms M Coleman