Damien Shane KURU 6/4/2022

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Damien Shane KURU

Hearing: 6 April 2022

At Whanganui Prison via MS Teams

Members of the Board:

Sir Ron Young – Chairperson

Mr L Tawera

Ms F Pimm

Counsel:                                            Mr J Waugh

In Attendance:                                  [withheld] – Case Manager

Support Person:                                [withheld]


  1. Mr Kuru who was sentenced to six years and six months’ imprisonment for manslaughter.  He is 42 years of age.
  2. He has a final release date of December 2023 and he has four pages of previous convictions involving violence, disobedience of Court orders and property offending, including a large number of breaches of protection orders.
  3. This is his first time before the Board.  Mr Kuru saw the Board on the same day as a number of other Black Power members who had also been convicted of either manslaughter or murder.  Before we began our discussion with Mr Kuru, we summarised our discussion with the victim of his offending.
  4. The facts were that a Mongrel Mob member was living in an area of Whanganui that the Black Power gang believed was their patch and so a number of threats were made to convince him to leave the area.  When that did not work, a number of Black Power members walked down to where the deceased was living, there was a confrontation and the Mongrel Mob member was shot and killed.
  5. As to Mr Kuru’s personal involvement, Mr Kuru was the President of Black Power in Whanganui.  The Judge at sentencing noted that Mr Kuru did not have any direct involvement in either the formation of the plan or in its execution.  The Judge accepted, however, that the group of Black Power men had turned up at Mr Kuru’s house.  The Judge doubted that Mr Kuru had had advance notice of their arrival, but they were armed with weapons including guns.  The Judge was satisfied that Mr Kuru went with the group to [WITHHELD] Street and partially up [WITHHELD] Street where the killing occurred and that (in reference to Mr Kuru) “you found out pretty quickly what was going on”.
  6. The Judge noted that the jury, by their verdict, must have found that Mr Kuru had knowledge of what was going on and by his presence and innate authority, encouraged the other Black Power members to execute their plan to attack the Mongrel Mob member.
  7. Mr Kuru initially had five misconducts prior to sentencing including possession of cannabis but more recently his conduct has improved.  He is identified to do the Te Tirohanga Programme.  Mr Kuru seemed somewhat confused about what programme was identified for him although a reading of the Parole Assessment Report would have made that clear.
  8. In any event, Mr Kuru does not accept that he is legally responsible for the offending but says that he is morally responsible because of his position as President.  Whatever the position in terms of responsibility, the question will therefore arise whether Mr Kuru can undertake rehabilitation programmes if he does not accept his culpability. In the end, this is not a matter the Board need be concerned about.  What programmes Mr Kuru is to undertake and what programmes he will be offered is a matter between Mr Kuru and Corrections.  But before he is likely to reduce his risk below undue, we would need to be satisfied that he has addressed the reasons for his offending and that he has undertaken rehabilitation focused on those reasons and has overall reduced his risk.
  9. Currently, Mr Kuru has had no rehabilitation.  We will see him again in 12 months’ time, by the end of April 2023, with the hope that he has been able to complete an appropriate programme and has a proposal for release.
  10. We have said to other members of the Black Power gang involved in this killing that the Board is very unlikely to allow a release to Whanganui.  We make no final decision on appropriate release addresses. Submissions have been made to us that Mr Kuru has played a major part in the improvement of gang behaviour in Whanganui.  If that is to be the basis on which he proposes to be released to Whanganui, we would need far more information than we currently have about the advantages and disadvantages of such a proposal, perhaps information from the police and others, who are able to take an objective view of Mr Kuru’s contribution and likely difficulty should be return to Whanganui.
  11. In the meantime, he remains an undue risk.

Sir Ron Young