Pearce Patrick BUCKLEY 19/03/2024

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Pearce Patrick BUCKLEY

Hearing: 19 March 2024

at Rolleston Prison via Ms Teams

Members of the Board:

Judge G F Ellis

Mr P Elenio

Mr C Roberts

Counsel: Mr B Stephenson

In Attendance: [withheld] - Case Manager

Support Persons: [withheld]


  1. Pearce Patrick Buckley, aged 35, is serving a sentence of two years and eight months’ imprisonment, having been found guilty at trial on three representative charges of possessing objectionable publication child abuse material.
  2. On three occasions in June 2018, Mr Buckley downloaded video files showing the sexual abuse of infant females.  The files were in his possession for a very short time before being deleted.  Each of the files was identified with the word “baby” in the descriptor.  He had denied the offending but was found guilty at trial.
  3. Mr Buckley has a limited history but that includes a serious violence offence in 2008.  There is no indication of any prior sexual-related offending.
  4. Mr Buckley reached parole eligibility on 14 August 2023 and his statutory release date is 22 May 2025.
  5. The Board does not yet have the full sentencing judgment of the sentencing Judge.  It is  important that the full sentencing judgment be made available to the Board before any further hearing.
  6. The sentencing notes that have been provided relate only to the Judge’s calculation of the discount to be given to Mr Buckley [withheld]. In the event, a full 6 months was deducted from his sentence for that reason.
  7. Mr Buckley was previously before the Board on 8 August 2023.  He had initially been identified for the Child Sex Offender Medium Intensity Programme (CSO:MIP) but was not taking responsibility for the nature of the offending for which he was convicted.  By the time he appeared before the Board in August 2023, it was understood that he had accepted responsibility and was considered ready for rehabilitation.  He asked to do that in the community, but the Board expected him to do the Medium Intensity Rehabilitation Programme in the prison to reduce his risk before release.
  8. The Board’s understanding of Mr Buckley’s position was based on the submissions made by counsel on his behalf.  In written submissions counsel had stated:

After listening to Mr Buckley in custody, he has made it clear to counsel that he accepts he has chosen to access the CSAM (Child Sex Abuse Material) [withheld].  Counsel will let Mr Buckley himself address the Board on what was going on in his life at the time. (Para 14 Submission 6.8.2023)

And further:

Mr Buckley has spoken to counsel about being welcoming of any rehabilitative intervention that can be provided to him that would help him understand where his mind went at the relevant time. (Para 15 Submission 6.8.2023).

  1. Since then, Mr Buckley appears to have reverted to his initial position of denial.  He told us that he had downloaded the files in question inadvertently without knowing what they were, and he had no interest in child sex abuse material.
  2. [withheld].
  3. [withheld]
  4. The Parole Assessment Report before us informs the Board that the Special Treatment Unit psychologists advise that Mr Buckley is scheduled to have a full psychological assessment before further treatment recommendations are made.  He has not been removed from the programme waitlist.  There is an indication in the Parole Assessment Report that such a psychological assessment is likely to occur in June.
  5. After discussion with Mr Buckley, his counsel, and [withheld], it has been agreed that the Board should ask for a psychological report now and to request that a full assessment be provided to the Board within the 16 week timeframe that applies to such requests.
  6. There are some serious questions raised as to the extent to which Mr Buckley accepts his offending, particularly in relation to that aspect of the material which focused on the sexual exploitation of children.  It is understood that, while Mr Buckley takes responsibility for downloading the files in question, he asserts that he had no particular interest in material relating to children and that the files in question were downloaded by accident or inadvertence and were rapidly discarded.
  7. Without the Judge’s full sentencing notes we can only conclude for the present that such explanations were tendered at trial but were not believed.
  8. Mr Buckley has proposed [withheld] as his release address.  [withheld].  However, an addendum to the Parole Assessment Report has advised the Board that the address is no longer considered suitable [withheld].
  9. [withheld]
  10. Mr Buckley was again supported by counsel, Mr Stephenson appeared and spoke in support of the written submission he had earlier filed.  Counsel emphasised his submission that the Board might still approve the [withheld] address, [withheld].  Counsel emphasised that there is no evidence of actual offending against children and averted to Mr Buckley’s insistence that he has no prurient interest in children.
  11. That is a matter that the Board is not required to determine today and will still need to be decided by the Board once Mr Buckley is clearly looking towards release.  Mr Buckley may well consider it prudent to consider an alternative proposal for release before the next hearing.
  12. [withheld]
  13. For the present, the Board is concerned that it does not have accurate information as to Mr Buckley’s assessed risk, nor any clear guidance as to the appropriate treatment pathway to address that risk.  Accordingly, we do call for a report from a Departmental psychologist which addresses and assesses risk and also gives recommendations as to an appropriate rehabilitative pathway, whether in custody or in the community, together with an assessment of any known release proposal.
  14. Until those further steps are taken Mr Buckley continues to be considered an undue risk if released into the community.  For today parole is declined.  The Board will see him again in four months, a date to be set before the end of July 2024.

Judge G F Ellis

Panel Convenor