Tamehana HUATA - 02/08/2019
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing: 2 August 2019
at Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison
Members of the Board:
- Ms K Snook – Panel Convenor
- Mr J Thomson
- Mr L Comer
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Tamehana Huata, 21, appeared for the first consideration of parole on a sentence of seven years six months’ imprisonment after he was found guilty by a jury of one charge of manslaughter and one charge of injuring with intent to injure. Both convictions relate to the violence Mr Huata was found by the jury to have inflicted on the two-and-a-half-year-old son of his partner. That violence killed the young boy.
- At trial Mr Huata denied that he committed the violence and said that the injuries must have been caused by accident.
- The Crown case, as accepted by the jury, was that while Mr Huata was generally a good stepfather, on this occasion, he lost his temper and lashed out at the boy. This caused a head injury which is described as being the substantial and operative cause of death. There were also multiple bruises and marks including marks which were said to be likely to be bite marks. The head injury was caused by a blunt force blow (or blows) to the boy’s head and face and the force used was said to be severe.
- These are Mr Huata’s only convictions. Mr Huata’s sentenced commenced on 1 April 2017, he is eligible for parole from 26 August 2019, and his sentence expires on 24 August 2024. Mr Huata has a RoC*Rol of 0.4595 and is on a minimum prison security classification.
- The report tells us that Mr Huata has been involved in four incidents but only one misconduct and it is clear that he has done very well in prison generally. He also has excellent support in the community. We have received submissions from Mr Huata detailing all of his achievements in prison and the list is certainly an impressive one.
- In terms of treatment directed at reducing his risk of reoffending Mr Huata has completed the Mauri Tu Pae programme. That was on 28 March 2018. He then completed the Drug Treatment Programme on 3 August 2018. There is an excellent report about his progress on those programmes and Mr Huata appears very motivated to never to return to prison.
- It was key for this Board to explore with Mr Huata what he now accepted about his offending. He spoke well to the Board. He said initially he struggled to take responsibility for what had happened. He spoke with remorse about what did happen and he said that he remembers his young stepson every day and has his photo in his room and prays to him at night.
- Mr Huata said that he fully accepted responsibility for the offending when on the Mauri Tu Pae programme. He said he was placed in the hot seat to discuss his offence map and accepted that he was responsible for killing the young boy. He told us today that he and the boy were both unwell on the day of the offending. He ended up smacking the boy prior to having a shower with him. He then hit him because he did not stop crying after the shower. He says that caused the boy to fall down the stairs. He denied biting the boy as referred to as a possibility in the Judge’s sentencing notes. Mr Huata said that at the time of the offending he was 17 and that he was not ready to be a father. He knows now that he can ask for help.
- Mr Huata retains a significant amount of support in the community. They have rallied around, and some of them were here today to hear Mr Huata accept responsibility for the offending in front of the Board. There is a good release proposal involving release to live with [withheld]. He has other support in the community. There have been two whānau hui. The first was in April 2019 and the second in July 2019. Mr Huata has potential work arranged in the community, including on the land and [withheld].
- Mr Huata said that he has spent a great deal of time talking through the offending with his partner, the mother of the young boy, [withheld]. She has their child residing with her. She was pregnant with that child when Mr Huata committed the offending. He accepts that returning to that family unit where there is a child will require a long and slow process and, ultimately, will require Oranga Tamariki approval as well as the assistance of other agencies.
- It was a very finely balanced decision given the nature and seriousness of this offending. However we are satisfied today that on the basis of the release proposal that is before the Board which involves Mr Huata not residing with children under 16, and given the work that he has completed in prison, he will not be an undue risk to the safety of the community if released on parole.
- The decision was finely balanced partly because of the seriousness of the offending and partly because of the length of time remaining on Mr Huata’s sentence. We think that residual risk, which really arises in the context of Mr Huata living in a home with young children, can be managed on appropriate conditions and with the oversight of other agencies (including Oranga Tamariki) who we know will be involved.
- Mr Huata will be released on parole on 9 September 2019 on the standard conditions and on the special conditions set out below.
- The key special condition, as noted, is that Mr Huata is to reside at [withheld]. The second key condition is that he is not to have contact or otherwise associate with a person under the age of 16 unless he has the prior written approval of a probation officer or unless he is under the supervision and in the presence of an adult approved in writing by a probation officer. We expect this condition to be strictly complied with and enforced.
- We also consider that there are special circumstances in Mr Huata’s case including the seriousness of the offending and the length of time remaining on his sentence which justify at least one face-to-face monitoring hearing with the Board. That will be in February 2020.
- There is also a special condition that Mr Huata is not to possess or consume alcohol or drugs. He was advised that his compliance with that condition can be randomly tested or monitored by an authorised person.
- For now we are imposing all of the conditions until Mr Huata’s statutory release date of 24 August 2024. That is something that can be reviewed at the monitoring hearing, or at some other time, if it is considered appropriate after the monitoring hearing.
- The special conditions are:
(1) To reside at [withheld] or any other address approved in writing by a Probation Officer, and not move from that address unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(2) Not to have contact or otherwise associate, with a person under the age of 16 years, directly or indirectly unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer, or unless you are under the supervision and in the presence of an adult approved in writing 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 disclose to a Probation Officer, at the earliest opportunity, details of any intimate relationship which commences, resumes, or terminates.
(5) Not to possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.
(6) To attend an alcohol and drug assessment, and attend, participate in and complete any treatment or counselling directed by a Probation Officer.
(7) To attend, participate in and complete any other programme/treatment/counselling as directed by a Probation Officer.
(8) To comply with any direction made under section 29B(2)(b) of the Parole Act 2002 to attend a hearing in February 2020 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.
Ms K Snook