Anthony Phillip HITCHCOCK 10/3/2022
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Anthony Phillip HITCHCOCK
Hearing: 10 March 2022
at Christchurch Men’s Prison via MS Teams
Members of the Board: Sir Ron Young - Chairperson
Ms M Kleist
Ms K Coutts
Prof Phil Brinded
Counsel: Mr C Nolan
In Attendance: [withheld] - Case Manager
Support Persons: [withheld]
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Mr Hitchcock, who is 65 years of age, was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and preventive detention for serious abduction and sexual offending. This offending all occurred together in 1996. It was an extremely serious murder of a mother and the sexual abuse of her daughter. Mr Hitchcock had previous convictions for sex offending and other offending.
- Prior to the hearing today, we saw the victims of the offending. We passed on to Mr Hitchcock their opposition to his release on parole.
- We saw Mr Hitchcock last in November 2021. At that stage, we noted that he had partially completed the Kia Marama Programme but there was concern about his conduct. He had completed 336 one-on-one sessions with a psychologist. He had no misconducts since 2015. He then was proposing to go to a [withheld] release to an individualised programme there. We did not have any information about the individualised programme and so we asked that it be provided to the Board so we could better understand what the release proposal was.
- As to the current position, Mr Hitchcock is assessed at being above average sexual offending risk and low/moderate risk of violent offending. Mr Hitchcock had previously been released to [withheld] but that had not been successful. The psychologist was more confident, as was Mr Hitchcock, that any release now to [withheld]would likely be more successful.
- As at the hearing today, the psychologist who prepared the risk assessment for the Board had not seen any individualised plan for release. The psychologist said that it was important that he did so. In addition, there was no completed safety plan in the sense that the plan did not reflect Mr Hitchcock's release and the kind of risks and responses that Mr Hitchcock would need to understand associated with the particular release.
- At 5 o'clock yesterday, we received the full individualised plan for Mr Hitchcock's release to [withheld]. As we have said to Corrections, it was far too late to provide this information to us today and expect us to spend time understanding the details of the plan and what was involved. We accept there were difficulties in communication between [withheld] and Corrections because of COVID, but the late receipt of the plan made our function that much more difficult today.
- The second difficulty was that the safety plan that we have assumed would be prepared and available for today's hearing was not. The Case Manager told us that she understood it would be prepared after Mr Hitchcock's release. That is not acceptable to us. We would want to understand and see the safety plan before we would be prepared to consider releasing Mr Hitchcock. This is a vital piece of information for our risk assessment.
- Finally, as we have noted the Correction’s psychologist said in the most recent report of February 2022, that the individualised programme for release to [withheld] be provided to the psychologists so they can assess the value of the plan and how it reduces Mr Hitchcock’s risk, make any comments about any improvements, or note any limitations or concerns.
- As to the plan that is proposed, on the face of it, we accept that it does have real value. We asked [withheld] why Mr Hitchcock was not subject to what might be called the “normal" [withheld] release arrangements. She told us that that was because the programme had changed in recent years and was more focused on reintegration and preparing prisoners for their release from [withheld] to an early release into the community. They did not think that that was an appropriate approach for Mr Hitchcock and his risk. They have come proposed what is called a: “Home for life package.” The accommodation at [withheld] has no expiry date. It is potentially on an indefinite basis. It is based on a traffic light system where Mr Hitchcock could begin living in [withheld] on the red light. That would mean that he could not leave [withheld] without staff and would have a very limited ability to leave the residence at all, even with staff members accompanying him. The red-light system programme would likely last for some considerable time. No less than six months but perhaps up to 18 months. At that stage if Mr Hitchcock's conduct is appropriate, then he could move to the next orange stage. This would include an ability to go to pre‑approved outings in the community with an approved person, including family members if they are seen as appropriate. And as further confidence grows about his release the colours change and more liberal release arrangements can occur.
- Each state will require Mr Hitchcock to develop a weekly plan that is approved by [withheld] and Corrections, which will include substantial reintegrative support. Mr Hitchcock will be required to attend appropriate rehabilitation programmes provided by [withheld]. The house he is proposing to be released to has cameras and is alarmed and so that any attempt by Mr Hitchcock to leave the premises would trigger an alarm. Those protections are a reassuring aspect of the release proposal.
- For the reasons given, however, we are satisfied that he remains an undue risk and cannot be released. We will see him again by the end of June 2022 with the hope that the additional information that we have requested can be provided and we can reassess the appropriateness of a release to [withheld].
Sir Ron Young