Thomas CHENG 24/2/2022
Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002
Hearing: 24 February 2022
at Tongariro Prison by Microsoft Teams
Members of the Board: Judge G F Ellis – Panel Convenor
Mr P Elenio
Mr C Roberts
In Attendance: [withheld]
DECISION OF THE BOARD
- Thomas Cheng, age 38, is a Singaporean Chinese. He is currently serving a sentence of 10 years and nine months’ imprisonment for import and supply of methamphetamine.
- Mr Cheng is subject to a deportation order that was served on him on 16 April 2018. It has not been appealed and Mr Cheng told us that he is not challenging that order.
- The offending for which he is currently sentenced occurred in December 2015, and involved some 574 grams of methamphetamine. Mr Cheng has outstanding charges from 2018 and 2019 involving importation and supply of methamphetamine and aggravated robbery.
- He has no prior history in New Zealand, but he has seven convictions in Singapore for which he was sentenced to imprisonment and those include a sentence of seven years and six months in 2008 for drug trafficking. There are also convictions for theft, forgery, other dishonesty, and bribery.
- Mr Cheng was last before the Board on 18 February 2021. The Board noted that his RoC*RoI (.15947) did not reflect his overseas offending and prior periods of imprisonment. The Board considered that treatment was necessary, but that had been delayed on account of the outstanding charges.
- The Parole Assessment Report indicates that a Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Programme is recommended, but that will be reassessed when [withheld]. Mr Cheng indicated that he is open to undertaking any rehabilitation treatment that is offered to him, whether it is a group programme or on a one-on-one basis.
- There was earlier a request for a psychologist’s report, but we note that that request was declined (presumably on the basis of the low Roc/Roi) and we do not have input from a Departmental psychologist.
- Mr Cheng’s conduct in the prison has been positive. He is described as polite, compliant and keeping to himself. The PCO commented that he occupies his time with legal challenges to his treatment in prison.
- Mr Cheng has no approved accommodation or release proposal in New Zealand. He is liable for deportation. It was explained to him that the Board must also consider whether he may be safely released into his own home community and for that reason we would need evidence of a release proposal and of family and community support in Singapore.
- Mr Cheng told us that [withheld] was very private about their family matters, but he has been given to understand that if he wishes to be released before sentence end date on the basis of deportation then the Board will need a release proposal with confirmed information regarding his future circumstances in his home country.
- Mr Cheng is in prison for commercial import and supply of methamphetamine. He does not need treatment as a drug user but as a criminal by choice. Until that issue has been progressed, he will continue to be assessed as an undue risk whether here or in Singapore and parole is for the present declined.
- The Board will see him again in 12 months, by which time it can be expected that his outstanding charges will have been resolved and he will have been given the opportunity to undertake and complete such rehabilitation as is identified for him following the outcome of those charges. If such matters have been attended to earlier than 12 months and he has a comprehensive release proposal, then he may seek an earlier return under s 26.
Judge G F Ellis