Nathan Charles FENTON 25/09/2023

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(1) of the Parole Act 2002

Nathan Charles FENTON

Hearing: 25 September 2023

at Auckland South Corrections Facility via Microsoft Teams

Members of the Board:

Ms K Snook – Panel Convenor

Ms W Taumaunu

Dr J Skipworth

In Attendance:  [withheld] – Case Manager

[withheld] – Practice Manager (observer)

Support Persons: [withheld]


  1. Nathan Charles Fenton, 48, appeared for the first consideration of parole. He is serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of a 17-year-old woman that he was in a relationship with. He was 31.
  2. Mr Fenton returned to the house after drinking and taking drugs, including methamphetamine. He accused a male who was at the property of being in a relationship with the victim. He assaulted him. In the house there were three other females and three young children. He pulled his partner from the bed and took her to another room where he attacked her for around 90 minutes, despite her pleas. He struck the victim a number of times with a sawn-off shotgun. He dragged her from room to room sometimes by her hair.  He attacked her with both the barrel and butt of the gun, as well as punching her, and then left her to die. The pathologist concluded that it would have taken the young victim around four hours to die. The Judge described this as a particularly callous feature of the offending. Mr Fenton then threatened the others present in the house with the gun telling them that they saw nothing. He later forced his sister and one of the other women to help him clean up. He then went on the run for around 10 days with an ex-partner. He committed other offending while on the run. Mr Fenton has a long history of other offending covering around 11 pages. That offending includes dishonesty, driving as well as other violent offending.
  3. Mr Fenton’s sentence began on 28 February 2007, he is eligible for parole from 7 September 2023, and he has a RoC*Rol of 0.89855.  He is on a minimum prison security classification and has an ASRS of 4. Mr Fenton has served a minimum non-parole period of 17 years.
  4. Before we met with Mr Fenton, we had met the mother of Mr Fenton’s victim and some of her support network. There is a summary of what was said to us at that meeting.  Mr Fenton will be shown that. In short, the victims are absolutely opposed to his release on parole. They believe that the whānau are serving the real-life sentence. They referred to the inhumane violence that was involved with the crime and which they still think will be in Mr Fenton.  They referred to his past history of violent offending.  [withheld]. If he is released on parole, they do not want Mr Fenton to be able to live in, or travel to, Auckland or Northland.
  5. Mr Fenton responded to our summary of what the victims’ views were. He said he understands fully where they are coming from and understands the words of the mother of the victim.  He said that he apologises for what he has done and said that words cannot express how sorry he is.  He said that he is no longer affiliated with the gang.  [withheld].
  6. Over the recent years in prison Mr Fenton has had positive file notes.  He is described as polite, respectful and compliant. The only issue over recent times was from November 2022.  [withheld]
  7. The report tells us that Mr Fenton last committed violence in prison in 2012.  He has done very well in terms of his rehabilitation. He completed the 12 month Drug Treatment Programme (DTP) and the Special Treatment Unit for Violent Offenders (STU:VO).  There is a good report regarding Mr Fenton’s involvement and progress in that treatment. There were 84 treatment sessions for the STU:VO. Mr Fenton stayed on in the therapeutic group and we have seen his safety plan.
  8. We have a psychological report dated 18 August 2023.  Mr Fenton remains assessed as at very high risk of general re‑offending and at medium risk of violent offending.  He is said to have high reintegration needs.  Because Mr Fenton has spent so long in prison a reintegration pathway is supported by the psychologist, as well as a whānau hui.
  9. Mr Fenton does have support in the community. [withheld].  Mr Fenton is motivated to be released into supported accommodation. He did have a bed available for him at [withheld], which was available from 30 October 2023.
  10. However, Mr Fenton indicated today that he was not expecting to be released. We did have written submissions from [withheld] who is no longer acting as his lawyer. He said that those submissions still stand.  Those submissions refer to the fact that Mr Fenton is open to restorative justice and going through that process if that is something the victims want to participate in. Mr Fenton's view is that he needs a long reintegration pathway because he has spent so long in prison and has not been in the community for some time.  He is hopeful that he will have guided releases and ultimately release to work.
  11. We did talk to Mr Fenton about the terrible offending that he committed.  He expressed remorse for it.  He said that one of his key core beliefs involved his attitude to women.  He objectified them and saw them as possessions.  He said that he treated just about every partner with violence and with a lack of respect.  He said he lacked his own role models and wants over time to build better and healthier relationships in the community.
  12. Mr Fenton appeared to minimise the role of methamphetamine in his offending.  He thinks that the key contributor was his own core beliefs. However, at the time that he was sentenced he said that he could not recall most of the offending because of the effect of substances.  It seemed to the Board that it is likely that Mr Fenton's core beliefs, in combination with the methamphetamine, were the key factors in the horrific violence he committed against his partner over an extended period.
  13. For today risk remains undue and parole is declined.  We agree with Mr Fenton that a sustained period of reintegration is important for him.  It will test what he has learnt in the treatment and ensure that he is able to maintain stable behaviour in a range of situations where he has more autonomy. It may be that he needs to transfer prisons to complete his reintegration pathway. That is because of the planned exclusion zones that have been sought by the victims which will require him to develop a release proposal away from both Auckland and Northland.
  14. We will schedule Mr Fenton to be seen again by a Board in February 2025 and no later than the end of that month. We support reintegration activities being provided to Mr Fenton.  There should be at least one whānau hui before he returns to the Board and we ask for an updated psychological risk assessment for the next hearing.

Ms K Snook

Panel Convenor