Gregory Howard MEADS 4/8/2021
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Gregory Howard MEADS
Hearing: Wednesday 4 August 2021
at Auckland Prison via AVL to Tongariro Prison
Members of the Board: Sir Ron Young – Chairperson
Dr J Skipworth
Mr L Tawera
Ms K Coutts
Counsel: Ms F Iggulden
Support Persons: (withheld)
(withheld) – Case Management
(withheld) – Case Management
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Mr Meads was convicted of murder in 2011. This is the first time he appeared before the Parole Board.
- Mr Meads killed his wife. Mr Meads and his wife were in the process of living apart. He took a shotgun, went to the stables where she was and shot his wife in the neck, immediately killing her.
- Mr Meads pleaded not guilty at trial. Essentially, his defence was that the gun had gone off accidentally that he had not deliberately pulled the trigger, and so a conviction for manslaughter would have been more appropriate than murder. The jury rejected that claim and convicted him of murder.
- Today, Mr Meads discussed with us the circumstances that gave rise to the killing. Before we detail that, we mention the work that Mr Meads has done in the prison. Mr Meads has a minimum-security classification. He has high praise from both his Case Manager and his PCO for his conduct in the prison. He had been undertaking one-on-one work with the psychologist, with 13 sessions to date, with approximately six further sessions arranged. He has a very supportive family, including the support of his father-in-law, that is the father of Mr Meads’ wife whom he killed. (withheld) saw us prior to the Parole Board hearing as a victim. He indicated his view that he did not think that Mr Meads was an undue risk and believed that it was very much in the interests of (withheld), Mr Meads’ and his deceased wife’s (withheld), that he be released as soon as possible.
- In addition, we saw (withheld) at the parole hearing (withheld) who also supports his release, and we have a letter from (withheld).
- Mr Meads essentially maintains the view that the killing was accidental. That he did not deliberately pull the trigger and that, although the gun went off and the trigger must have been pulled, he says the circumstances that occurred were such that it was an accident and not a deliberate killing. That is in conflict with the conclusion of the jury, given their verdict which would have been based on a deliberate killing.
- We spent some time talking to Mr Meads about the reasons why he had taken a loaded shotgun to what was intended to be, he said, a discussion with his wife to clarify what their future was. The Judge at sentencing said that he considered the circumstances that gave rise to the killing was that Mr Meads had downloaded some text messages from his wife’s phone, the content of those messages meant that Mr Meads thought there would be difficulties about custodial arrangements for his daughter and about relationship property. In addition, the Judge considered that Mr Meads had formed the view that his wife was in a relationship with another man. As the Judge said: “In other words, Helen was not being straight with you.”
- Today, Mr Meads had quite a different focus. He said that he simply wanted to clear up what he thought was some confusion about what his wife was doing, after he thought they had reached an agreement about their future.
- It seems to us that the psychological report is primarily based on Mr Meads’ view as to the circumstances of the killing. While the Judge’s observations are noted in a broad sense in the report, the report writer noted that Mr Meads’ description of the offence and the circumstances surrounding the offense were “consistent with official information.” We do not think that is correct. We think Mr Meads’ narrative is quite different than the conclusions reached by the Judge at sentencing, and most importantly, quite different to the verdict that Mr Meads had deliberately killed his wife rather than Mr Meads’ claim that this was simply an accident.
- As a result of the work he has done with a psychologist, a safety plan has been prepared on the basis of Mr Meads’ view as to his motive and circumstances of killing. That is inadequate. We think, therefore, the appropriate approach now is for Mr Meads to have further sessions with a psychologist where the circumstances that gave rise to the killing, and the killing itself as identified by the sentencing Judge, are discussed, and a reassessment of his risk, any further rehabilitation and reintegration is made based on that narrative.
- In addition, we consider the psychologist needs to work with Mr Meads to develop a safety plan that reflects the circumstances described by the Judge rather than Mr Meads’ narrative.
- In the meantime, he remains an undue risk. We will see him again by the end of February 2022.
Sir Ron Young