Travis BURNS - 08/02/2019

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Travis BURNS

Hearing: 8 February 2019

at Auckland South Corrections Facility

via AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington

Members of the Board:

  • Mr N Trendle – Panel Convenor
  • Sir Ron Young
  • Mr D Hauraki


  • Mr M Bates


  • [withheld]

Support Persons:

  • [withheld]
  • [withheld]


  1. Travis Burns is serving a life sentence for the murder of Joanne McCarthy on 12 November 1998.  When he was sentenced on 15 August 2000, the Judge imposed a minimum period of imprisonment of 15 years. That period expired in March 2014. He has previously appeared before the Board on three occasions when parole was declined.
  2. Mr Burns successfully completed the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation Programme (STURP) in August 2014 and subsequently he attended and completed the Drug Treatment Programme (DTP) in May 2015. Since he last appeared before the Board, he has undertaken a series of 16 individual treatment sessions with a psychologist and is reported to have engaged well. That treatment was directed to Mr Burns’ risk arising from his past sexual offending. He has long held a minimum security classification.
  3. Mr Burns was represented at the hearing by his counsel, Mr Bates, who helpfully filed written submissions in advance of the hearing. Counsel submitted that Mr Burns had successfully completed the rehabilitation phase of his sentence and was making good progress on reintegration activities. He is presently in Self Care and occupied a trusted position as the Self Care support worker. He had been allocated a mentor who was part of the community reintegration team at Auckland South Corrections Facility. He had been approved for a stepped approach to Release to Work and had successfully completed a period working on the internal grounds team. He was recently approved to work on the external grounds. This involved his working outside the wire subject to GPS monitoring and supervision for a period. In time, that supervision would cease but Mr Burns would remain subject to monitoring.
  4. Mr Bates submitted that Mr Burns had not previously raised the issue of parole. Having regard to his progress, he submitted that it was appropriate for the Board to give an indication as to a possible future release date.  Before being released, Mr Burns accepted that three foundation blocks needed to be put into place. The first was for him to progress through to Release to Work; the second was for Mr Burns to secure appropriate accommodation; and the third building block was for him to secure employment. At this stage he had been accepted by [withheld] for supported accommodation.
  5. [withheld].
  6. We acknowledge Mr Burns has completed rehabilitation activities for now. We note the psychological report that concludes with the recommendation that no further psychological intervention is necessary at this stage. The recommendation in the report dated 11 January 2019 was for a graduated programme towards Release to Work.
  7. Mr Burns is already on that pathway but the Board is of the view that his progress to date is somewhat precipited, having regard to the recency of the changes that Mr Burns told us he made, and the psychological opinion that a stepped period of testing is necessary. Having regard to his history of offending and the necessity for change to be embedded, the Board is of the view that an extended period of testing at each and every stage of Mr Burns’ reintegration is essential to ensure that a solid foundation is established before he progresses to the next stage.
  8. Brief reference was made to Mr Burns’ proposed release plan.  In the Board’s view it needs considerable strengthening. We leave is to Mr Burns and his case manager to reflect on how best his reintegration needs will be met upon release.  We note in passing that he briefly referred to [withheld] as an option.
  9. Parole is declined. Mr Burns has begun the reintegration phase of his sentence.  It is, however, our firm view that considerable care is necessary in managing that process.  It should be gradual and measured. He will need to demonstrate over a considerable period that the changes that he says he has made are sustained.
  10. He will be scheduled to return to the Board in 18 months, by 30 August 2020.  For that hearing the Board requests an updating psychological addendum.

Mr N Trendle
Panel Convenor