Stefan BENATZKY 21/10/2020
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing: 21 October 2020
at Rimutaka Prison
Members of the Board: Judge A N MacLean – Panel Convenor, Dr G Coyle, Mr L Tawera
Counsel: Ms J Fyfe
Support Persons: (withheld) – Friend
(withheld) – Friend
In Attendance: (withheld) – Case Manager
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Stefan Benatzky is before the Board again for consideration of parole. He is subject to a deportation order back to Germany. A previous Board determined that appropriate arrangements in the interests of community safety were in place to allow him parole to be deported to Germany but COVID problems arose.
- The situation remains the same. The Board has been informed that deportation is still not possible because the view is that a police escort is required, and the police are not prepared to provide the necessary personnel for that to be implemented. We can understand the background to that in light of the latest news about the situation with COVID in Germany and the rest of the world.
- There can be no certainty at all about when the COVID situation has improved sufficiently and arrangements can be put in place for deportation. Whether that is by way of relaxation of the requirement for a police escort or by some other means we do not know.
- The reality, however, now as his counsel, Ms Fyfe points out is that a man assessed at low risk seen as suitable for parole is remaining in prison through matters entirely outside his control.
- As the PCO noted, notwithstanding the frustration that this must have caused – including being the subject of a Revocation Order – he has maintained his good behaviour. He has had a well-regarded position utilising his chef skills in the prison.
- Counsel on his behalf seeks a release to the community, picking up on the discussions from the last Board who wanted a robust release plan.
- That has now eventuated in that he has a sponsor, (withheld) who are prepared to provide their property at (withheld). The accommodation appears perfectly adequate and while Mr Benatzky is not able to work he told us that he would plan to be of assistance to his sponsors and keep himself busy with household chores, cooking meals and the like.
- He was supported today by (withheld) and (withheld), who told us that they are part of a faith-based community in (withheld). They have a role in supporting people such as Mr Benatzky after release. They have known him for some time now and confirmed that they would the quick to let his probation officer know if there were any signs of a relapse.
- The particular risk area would appear to be in the area of using prostitutes are for sex; also, the use of the digital devices to cause harm.
- In in the circumstances, balancing the principle of being satisfied there is no undue risk to the community and that the conditions of release are no more onerous than necessary in the interests of public safety, the Board is satisfied that a release on parole can be entertained now.
- There are several additional matters that we believe will need to be put into the special conditions to meet the particular circumstances of this case.
- These include a pre-release hui to get together Mr Benatzky’s sponsors, his other supporters and the appropriate professionals including his probation officer to ensure everybody is aware of the release conditions and what is expected of Mr Benatzky.
- Also, to give Probation, the ability to check on his use of any digital devices.
- In terms of the release, we need to modify the usual provision relating to deportation and we have set out the details of that in the special conditions.
- The intent of that provision is that contact not be lost with Mr Benatzky so that when the immigration authorities are ready to move on deportation there will be no impediment to that being effected without any delay. We expect Mr Benatzky to be quite open with everybody about where he is and in particular to cooperate with the immigration authorities.
- In the meantime, he will be subject to the standard and those special conditions through to his statutory release date.
- That is with the exception of the curfew (10.00 pm to 6.00 am) which will be for three months from 11 November. The curfew is intended to reinforce and support his re entry into relative freedom after a lengthy time in prison. He is to maintain contact with the New Zealand immigration Department in order to facilitate deportation when determined by the New Zealand immigration.
- We reminded Mr Benatzky of the implications of the abstinence provision in terms of liability to being tested and/or monitored if and as required.
- The Special Conditions to run to his Sentence End Date 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) To be at your approved address between the hours of 10:00pm and 6:00am daily unless you have the prior written approval of a Probation Officer.
(3) To disclose to a Probation Officer, at the earliest opportunity, details of any intimate relationship which commences, resumes, or terminates.
(4) Not to possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.
(5) Not to have contact or otherwise associate, with any victim of your offending, [including previous offending] directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written approval of a probation officer.
(6) Upon request, to make available to a probation officer, or his or her agent, any electronic device capable of accessing the internet that is used by you, or is in your possession or control, for the purpose of monitoring your use of the device.
(7) To maintain contact with the New Zealand immigration Department in order to facilitate deportation when determined by the New Zealand Immigration.
“Please note: you may be required to undergo a drug or alcohol test and or submit to drug or alcohol monitoring.”
Judge A N MacLean