Gustav Otto SANFT 11/11/2020

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Gustav Otto SANFT

Hearing: 11 November 2020

at Auckland Prison by AVL from New Zealand Parole Board, Wellington

Members of the Board: Ms K Snook – Panel Convenor, Dr S Davis, Ms P Rose

Counsel:                                            Ms L Smith

In Attendance:                                  (Withheld) (Case Manager)

Support Persons: (withheld) (Partner)


  1. Gustav Otto Sanft, 29, appeared for the further consideration of parole in relation to a sentence of four years, 10 months’ imprisonment for manslaughter, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession for supply of cannabis.
  2. Mr Sanft has a RoC*RoI of 0.47925, he is on a minimum prison security classification, and has a statutory release date of 30 April 2022.
  3. Mr Sanft has completed all of the rehabilitation on his plan including the MIRP and the DTP.  He is working in a trusted position outside the wire in the grounds.  There are no issues with his behaviour.  In fact the PCO gave a very good report about Mr Sanft today.  He said he is a role model prisoner.  He is residing in unit 9 which is a reintegration unit.  In that unit  Mr Sanft is effectively segregated from other associates including those in the Crips gang.
  4. One of the key issues for Mr Sanft has been the issue of approved accommodation.  The optimum plan as far as Mr Sanft is concerned is to return to live with (withheld) and (withheld).  Despite the tragic loss of their child as result of Mr Sanft’s actions his partner remains in support.  There was a restorative justice meeting prior to sentencing.  She was at the hearing today.
  5. That proposal has required an application by Oranga Tamariki to the Family Court in (withheld - 6(c) of the OIA)
  6. (withheld - 6(c) of the OIA)
  7. Ms Smith appeared today on instructions from Mr Sanft’s counsel Mr Hamlin.  He could not attend today.  He had filed written submissions in advance of the hearing.
  8. Mr Hamlin in the submissions, and Ms Smith orally, referred to the positive features of Mr Sanft’s case as detailed above including his completion of all of his planned rehabilitation.
  9. Ms Smith detailed the support that is available to Mr Sanft and to his family.  Oranga Tamariki are working closely with the family.  There have been at least three family group conferences which Mr Sanft has attended on guided releases.  The plan, as noted above, is that he will transition back home eventually.  The case manager in the prison, (withheld), has also been heavily involved in the release planning.
  10. There is an approved address for Mr Sanft with his (withheld) in (withheld).  We discussed with Mr Sanft today concerns about that address.  He acknowledged that this is the address where he grew up.  He said that (withheld) is where he met his (withheld) associates.
  11. We spent some time talking to Mr Sanft about his association with the (withheld).  He has successfully distanced himself from the gang in prison.  He says he has a new resolve to not associate with the gang.  However he also expressed concerns to the Board that the gang may want to make an “example” of him.  He said at one point that he had not given much thought to how he will manage that ongoing risk in the community.  That risk is obviously heightened in (withheld) as compared to (withheld) or any other address further away from where Mr Sanft grew up.  Mr Sanft appeared to acknowledge that.
  12. There is a safety plan on file.  We do not gain much confidence from our discussion with Mr Sanft today that he is familiar with what he will need to do in the community to keep himself safe and away from crime.  This was particularly evident during our discussion about managing any contact with the (withheld).
  13. We had also understood that Mr Sanft was supported by (withheld), a (withheld) that had provided detailed information to the Board previously about the support and assistance it would provide to Mr Sanft and his family including safety planning, parenting support, grief and trauma counselling and other support in the community.
  14. Very recently that support has been changed.  We were advised by Mr Sanft’s partner that because (withheld) support worker’s daughter has passed away she is not doing that work anymore.  She has encouraged Mr Sanft and the family to obtain support from (withheld).  We have no information on the file about the services that (withheld) will provide.  Mr Sanft was not able to talk in any convincing way about the planned support.  He said he has yet to meet anyone from that organisation.
  15. We understand that the high risk team have suggested that on any release there should be a special condition imposed that Mr Sanft is not to have any children under 14 left in his care as a sole supervisor at any time.  We were advised that the reference to under 14 year olds arose because all of Mr Sanft ‘s own children are 12 and under.
  16. We talked with Mr Sanft about the index offending.  He admitted today that he pointed the gun at his daughter and pulled the trigger.  This is different from what he said in Court.  It is what he was found guilty of at trial.  It is clear from our discussion today that the offending arose in a situation of a series of very poor choices made by Mr Sanft.  This includes continuing to have the firearm in a house where there were at least five children.  He said he had the firearm for around four to six months.
  17. Mr Sanft has done very well on his sentence.  However we are not in a position today where we are satisfied that risk is no longer undue.  In coming to that view we have had regard to the provisions of the Parole Act 2002.  We note the application of section 7(3) in assessing “undue risk”.  It is our view that given the seriousness of the offending there needs to be a very tight plan in place for any release.  We do not have that plan today.  Parole is declined.
  18. We will schedule Mr Sanft to be seen again by a Board in March 2021 and no later than the end of that month.
  19. Before the next hearing we want further work to be done in clarifying Mr Sanft’s release proposal.  We have concerns about a release back to (withheld).  Those concerns may be alleviated if there is a clearer plan put forward in relation to Mr Sanft managing his risk of coming into contact with his (withheld) associates.  He admitted today that this not only causes risk to him but also to those with whom he will be living.
  20. There also needs to be detailed information before the Board about (withheld) and the services they will be offering to Mr Sanft and his family on any release. He needs to meet a representative from that organisation.
  21. To assist with all of this there should be further guided releases.  There should be at least one reintegration meeting attended by all of those who will be providing support to Mr Sanft on his release.  This should include a (withheld) representative, Mr Sanft’s whānau and his Probation Officer.  It would also be helpful if there was a representative from the police, potentially a (withheld) officer, so that appropriate release and safety planning can be formalised.
  22. Minutes of that meeting and Mr Sanft’s revised safety plan should be provided to the next Board.
  23. It would be helpful for the next Board to also receive an update on the position in relation to Oranga Tamariki’s application to the Family Court.  Proposed wording should also be provided to the Board in relation to the proposed condition relating to unsupervised contact with under 14 year olds.

Ms K Snook

Panel Convenor