Raymond Wahia RATIMA 12/03/2024

Parole Hearing

Under section 21(2) of the Parole Act 2002

Raymond Wahia RATIMA

Hearing: 12 March 2024

at Christchurch Men’s Prison via MS Teams

Members of the Board:

Sir Ron Young - Chairperson

Dr J Ioane

Ms F Pimm

Counsel: Mr R Eagles

In Attendance: [withheld] - Case Manager

Support Persons: [withheld]


  1. Mr Ratima, who is 57 years of age, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1992 for the murder of seven people and the attempted murder of a number of others.  Prior to those convictions, he had convictions for driving offending and other property offending.
  2. We saw a victim today and had a number of written submissions from victims.  We advised Mr Ratima that there is a strong view that Mr Ratima should not be released.  The victims expressed their deep concern that Mr Ratima seemed to be changing what he was saying about the circumstances of the murder.  He seemed to be saying that he did not ever intend to kill the people in the house but that he took the knives with him to defend himself.  They said that that description of what happened was not true and that they viewed it as him refusing to accept responsibility.
  3. These are issues that the Parole Board has raised from time to time with Mr Ratima as had psychologists speaking to him for now over 20 years.  Mr Ratima initially accepted after he first came to prison that when he went to the house with the knives, he intended to kill those in the house and that when he waited for others to arrive (who he was convicted of attempting to murder) he intended to kill them.
  4. Subsequently in the early 2000s, he changed his view, and that view has been maintained with exceptions from time to time over the last 20 years.  In discussions with psychologists, he maintained at times that he did not intend to kill. However, at other times he has said he did intend to kill and that has been the same situation with the Board from time to time. And so, we have been concerned that if his treatment in the past has essentially been based on the proposition that he went to the house carrying the knives to defend himself, then that is quite a different circumstance than planning to kill those in the house and the others and therefore may confuse what is the appropriate rehabilitation.
  5. Today, Mr Ratima said that in the past he had tried to reduce the seriousness of his offending by telling psychologists and the Parole Board that he had not intended to kill when he took the knives to the house.  Today he said explicitly he had intended to kill those in the house and he had intended to kill the others who came to the house afterwards.  We take that acceptance at face value.  We think it is important.
  6. Today, as we understand it, counsel sought release, but after a discussion with Mr Ratima with respect to the psychological report of February 2024, it did not seem to us that Mr Ratima was essentially seeking parole.  He accepted that further risk-based work needed to be done.  We do not intend to summarise what was contained in the psychological report in this decision.  We think it reflects the issues that we raised in our decision of October 2022, when we identified the two factors when Mr Ratima changed his description of the background and circumstances of the offending and also his inability to really identify why he killed his extended family and intended to kill others.
  7. The psychological report is helpful in that it identifies these as significant areas to address.  In addition, we think most helpfully, the report identifies the fact that Mr Ratima is reluctant to confront difficult issues.  That is illustrated in his changes relating to the killing itself and other examples in the report which illustrates this reluctance.
  8. The way forward for him was not necessarily to have any further direct work with a psychologist, but a transfer to the Matapuna Special Unit with access to a psychologist and to the specialist staff at the unit.  The idea is that this transfer would enable him to consolidate his skills to manage negative thoughts and emotions.  It will enable him to be taken out of what is currently a very comfortable position for him in the prison and to be challenged from time to time so that he could learn the skills that he will need to develop a safe release.  Corrections were prepared to develop a bespoke plan for his engagement in that community. We commend that approach.
  9. Mr Ratima did not seem particularly keen on going to Matapuna.  [withheld].  He did not think that that was the right kind of community for him.  He repeated that he was doing well where he was and that also he was reluctant to accept the loss of income [withheld] such a change would involve.
  10. As to the latter comment about his weekly income, we were concerned that Mr Ratima might understand how such a concern might appear in terms of his preparedness to address his risk accepting there are likely to be some financial consequences for him.  We also discussed the question of empathy with him. [withheld] It was only when challenged about this that he mentioned that he was deeply sad and sorry for the offending that had occurred. And so, we consider the question of empathy will also be an important part of the further work he is to do.
  11. As we have said, we strongly support the recommendation that Mr Ratima transfers to the Matapuna Unit and that a bespoke plan is developed and applied. If that does not happen, we hope an alternative plan is developed to try and address the issues in the psychological report relating to his risk-based need can be developed.
  12. We will see him again in about 18 months’ time, in July 2025, to review the position.  In the meantime, for the reasons given, he remains an undue risk.

Sir Ron Young