Christopher Wayne PATTERSON 30/8/2022
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Christopher Wayne PATTERSON
Hearing: 30 August 2022
at Christchurch Men’s Prison via Microsoft Teams
Members of the Board: Mr N Trendle – Panel Convenor
Prof P Brinded
Mr A Spierling
Ms W Taumaunu
In Attendance: [withheld] - Case Manager
[withheld] – Case Manager
Support persons: [withheld]
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Christopher Wayne Patterson is serving a sentence of life imprisonment imposed on 21 October 2008 for the murder of Michael Hutchings.
- Mr Patterson made his first appearance before the Board in December 2020, when he was about to participate in the Special Treatment Unit programme. [withheld]
- Since then, Mr Patterson has graduated from the Matapuna Special Treatment Unit programme in June last year and has been on a reintegration pathway for the last nine months. He transferred to the Self-Care Units and the [withheld] in November. He is reported to have engaged well and worked in the piggery outside the wire for a period. Earlier this month he was approved for Release to Work and has been employed in a [withheld] since then.
- On his release from prison Mr Patterson has been assessed to participate in the [withheld] programme. He was accepted and we were advised today that a placement is available towards the end of next month.
- Prior to the hearing, the Board received three written submissions from members of Mr Hutchings’ family who were opposed to Mr Patterson’s release on parole. Reference was made to the victims’ wishes that he should not be permitted to enter the [withheld] area when he left prison. Additionally, the Board met with two other members of Mr Hutchings’ family prior to the hearing. They, as the other family members, referred to the profound impact his offending had on them. [withheld]
- Mr Patterson expressed how sorry he was for his decisions and actions that resulted in Mr Hutchings’ death. He prefaced that by saying that due to the understanding of himself that he had gained while he was on the Special Treatment Unit programme, he had profoundly changed his thinking and his understanding of the effect emotions played on his actions. The best way he could demonstrate that to his victims was by living offence-free for the rest of his life.
- In view of the incoherent account of his offending that he provided the Board at the last hearing, and the opportunity he has had since to develop his offence map while on the Special Treatment Unit programme, we spent time discussing with Mr Patterson his current understanding of why he killed Mr Hutchings. He told us that he had been very angry following serious allegations made some months earlier by a babysitter. The day of his offending he had been angry. He wanted to hurt someone. He had also returned to using a mixture of Ritalin, alcohol, and cannabis. That, he told us, led him to a rabbit hole and to the “old insanities returning”. His partner at the time, whom he had a brief association with, allegedly put forward Mr Patterson as a target for his anger.
- Mr Patterson acknowledged that there was no rational explanation for his offending. He reiterated that his action in transferring his anger to Mr Hutchings reflected his beliefs at the time. He accepted that offered no justification for his actions.
- The Board is left with a picture that does not present a coherent or rational basis for his actions. We accept however, that is most likely due in no small part to his consumption of alcohol and drugs at the time. It does not seem to us that a clearer understanding of why he killed Mr Hutchings is likely to emerge.
- Mr Patterson has been accepted by [withheld] to participate on the [withheld] and he has been initially assessed as suitable for the [withheld]. It appears that he has progressed along a reintegration pathway.
- The Board is, however, concerned that an important area of risk has yet to be adequately addressed. In that regard we refer to the effect on Mr Patterson’s thinking and actions of his substance abuse, which seemed to us to contribute in a very material way to his paranoid thinking when he killed Mr Hutchings. That has only partially been addressed in the Special Treatment Unit Rehabilitation programme and although the psychologist was of the view that treatment could be continued in the community, the Board is of the firm view that the importance of confronting substance abuse by Mr Patterson needs to be addressed before he is released from prison. As he vividly put it, his recourse to substance abuse to cope with life’s pressures unleashed “old insanities”. We fall well short of being satisfied that he has fully confronted that risk issue in his treatment to date.
- We have also reflected on the views expressed by his victims as to the areas Mr Patterson should not enter when he returns to the community. We accept that he should not enter the [withheld] areas as that is where they reside and frequent. That has implications for Mr Patterson’s release plan, which will need further consideration.
- For today, parole is declined. We support Mr Patterson’s referral to attend the Drug Treatment Programme. On completion of that programme, it may be that consideration could be given for him to resume reintegration activities but that will be a matter for discussion between Mr Patterson, the facilitators of the programme and his Case Manager. He will be scheduled to return to the Board in 12 months, by 31 August 2023. For that hearing the Board requests a psychological addendum assessing the progress Mr Patterson has made.
Mr N Trendle