Jamiee Marie COONEY 7/10/2020

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Jamiee Marie COONEY

Hearing: 7 October 202

Arohata Prison Upper Jail via SVMR

Members of the Board: Ms K Snook (Panel Convenor), Ms M Dodd, Ms M Kleist

Counsel: Ms M Radich

Support: (withheld)

In Attendance: (withheld) – Principle Case Manage

Ms A Leask – NZ Herald Reporter

DECISION OF THE BOARD

  1. Jamiee Marie Cooney, 38, appeared for the first consideration of parole in relation to a sentence of two years six months’ imprisonment for seven charges of sexual connection with a young person aged 12 to 16, and two charges of exposing a young person to indecent material.
  2. Ms Cooney entered a guilty plea at trial.  The offending occurred in the context of Ms Cooney’s role as a teacher at a high school. There were two victims.  The aggravating factors in relation to the offending, as noted by the sentencing Judge, included the age discrepancy, the frequency and duration of the offending, and Ms Cooney’s role as a teacher in a senior leadership role and as the school Wellness Coordinator.
  3. Ms Cooney’s sentence commenced on 17 December 2019, she is eligible for parole from 17 October 2020, and has a statutory release date of 16 June 2022.  She has a RoC*RoI of 0.17598 and is on a low prison security classification.
  4. In advance of the hearing we received written submissions from Ms Cooney’s counsel, Ms Radich. Ms Radich also made oral submissions at the hearing today.
  5. Ms Cooney was seeking parole. Ms Cooney admitted her offending at the first available date.  Community Corrections had indicated that she was suitable for home detention but the sentencing judge considered that a custodial sentence was required.  The basis for Ms Radich’s submission that Ms Cooney meets the statutory test for a release on parole was as set out in paragraph 8 of her written submissions.  This includes the fact that Ms Cooney has been a model prisoner, she is fully supported by her loving and extensive family including her two young children. She has undertaken her own work to begin to address her offending.  While she acknowledges that she needs more treatment, it was submitted that the treatment that Ms Cooney needs is unavailable to her in prison.  Ms Radich submitted that if Ms Cooney is to participate in the necessary treatment for sex offending she needs to do so other than in a prison environment.
  6. We record that Ms Cooney’s extensive community support was represented today at the hearing by (withheld)  who spoke of his ongoing support as well as (withheld).
  7. The alternative submission from Ms Radich was that because the psychological risk assessment that had been asked for by the Board is not available, Ms Cooney was seeking a short stand down period to enable the Board to have access to that assessment when making its decision.
  8. The Board has a psychological memorandum dated 31 August 2020.  A psychological risk assessment had been sought by the Board’s administration.  The memorandum indicates that the request was not made until 29 July 2020 and therefore the request falls outside the 15 week business rule. The report will be available by 30 October 2020.
  9. We asked Ms Cooney whether she had met the psychologist for an assessment. She said she had been doing some work with a psychologist and it is her understanding that this is the person who is now preparing the assessment. She had understood that the psychologist would have the assessment ready for this hearing but despite Privacy Act requests, that has not happened.
  10. The Board agreed to adopt the latter course suggested by Ms Radich.  It is our view that we are not able to make a proper assessment of Ms Cooney’s risk in view of the very serious offending which has brought her into prison, in the absence of a psychological risk assessment.  At this time Ms Cooney remains an untreated sexual offender.  It would be very surprising to us if treatment cannot be made available to her in prison.  In the absence of treatment, she may not meet the statutory test for release on parole.
  11. We agreed, without considering the matter further during the hearing today, to adjourn consideration of parole in relation to Ms Cooney to a hearing on 6 November 2020.  It is imperative that the psychological risk assessment is available for that next Board.  As noted above we understand that it will be available by 30 October 2020.

Ms K Snook

Panel Convenor