Murder after 51 days on parole
The Sunday Star-Times, Auckland, New Zealand
by Fleur Revell and Kim Purdy
August 13, 2000
TAFFY Hotene was ordered to live in an Auckland city drugs and alcohol rehabilitation house for two years as part of his parole conditions. He ran away within two weeks, apparently with the knowledge of the Corrections Department.
Five weeks later he murdered Kylie Jones.
The Sunday Star-Times has obtained documents on Hotene including his parole conditions. The Corrections Department refuses to comment on its role in the saga, citing Hotene's privacy and his pending sentencing. However, his parole papers show Hotene had to meet five special conditions following his release from jail on April 16. These included living at the Ponsonby-based Ngati Arohanui Trust for two years - taking part in its programmes - or at an address approved by his probation officer. The head of the trust, Betty Wark, says Hotene told his probation officer he didn't like the trust's drugs programme, Narconon Aotearoa. It was too strict.
She says he and another man ran away for a night. He turned up in Otara the next day where he checked in with the Probation Service on time. After Hotene ran away, Wark heard from his sister that he was going to live with her and Corrections approved.
Wark had some confidence that going to his sister might help Hotene but she was angry he was not reprimanded for breaching parole by running away. Wark confronted his probation officer, saying it was "not on" - he was obviously not complying with the rules of the programme.
"I didn't think he should go just as yet because he'd done nothing to stabilise himself." Wark understands the officer has subsequently been spoken to. The officer refused to comment.
"A person will probably find every way to get out of something they don't like, but the rules are the rules," says Wark. "I said I won't stand for that sort of behaviour and he should be returned to prison for that (running away). I believe his sister really wanted to help him and that going to her may have helped him but obviously in the end it didn't."
Hotene's other special parole conditions were:
* Making an appointment with a psychologist within 72 hours of his release.
* Undertaking other treatment and counselling as directed by his probation officer.
* Completing an assessment for the Corrections Department straight thinking programme.
* A non-association clause with his previous victims.
No one is saying how many of these conditions Hotene met. Corrections Minister Matt Robson has ordered an internal inquiry.
Why was Hotene released in the first place? He appeared before the Parole Board in January. With him was Dan Davis, who oversees the Legionnaires Academy, a privately run boot camp for Maori offenders in south Auckland. Hotene was part of the academy in the early '90s.
Because he had served two-thirds of his 12-year sentence, the board said it was forced, under Section 99 of The Criminal Justice Act, to release him.
"People somehow think that we let him out," said board member Dr David Chaplow. "The law let him out. We've always been unhappy with Section 99. We had a meeting about it three weeks ago and his name came up . . . We didn't talk specifically about him but we did talk about the inadequacy of the Section 99 legislation." The board wants the automatic release clause removed. It wants the onus put back on the prisoner to prove he has mended his ways.
"People with determined sentences . . . it doesn't matter how bad they look, you've got to let them go. Now that's a political issue, it's got nothing to do with us. Who do you blame for the law? And what sort of blame should be placed on Hotene? The first fall guy has to be Hotene."
Robson says the actions of everybody involved are under scrutiny. "If there is individual culpability I have issued an instruction I want to know . . . but at the same time I am not predetermining it by saying I want a scapegoat."
Law professor Warren Young is looking at the Parole Board, how it is set up and its decision making as part of the government's review of sentencing options.
Last year, the board considered 144 Section 99 cases. Ninety-nine were approved; 44 "postponed for further consideration" and one was labelled miscellaneous, says the board's annual report. It does not go into details.
Chaplow concedes the board can hold prisoners on a Section 105 detention. This means there are strong fears the prisoner will commit a specified offence upon release. They can be kept behind bars for their full term.
But these applications are rare. The board considered seven in 1999. A Section 105 was never considered for Hotene. He was ineligible because he was sentenced in 1992 - a year before Section 105 became law.
Senior lecturer in Sociology at Canterbury University, Dr Greg Newbold, said the court would now be looking at a long non-parole period for Hotene.
"The one thing I think that needs to be done is that post-release conditions need to be enforced by corrections authorities and apparently in the case of Hotene they weren't. If his parole conditions had been enforced Kylie Jones might be alive."
Will the Parole Board use more 105s? Chaplow: "We will look at anything the department (of Corrections) puts before us and I think that the department may well consider more 105s."
The Parole Board has made serious errors in the past. Board chairman Justice Heron had to apologise to victims of Peter Howse after the sex offender and murderer was paroled in August 1995 and reverted to serious offending. He was recalled to serve the rest of his sentence and won't be eligible for parole for another decade.
Turoa Hapi was jailed for four years for violating two young sisters - after he was paroled he raped and stabbed a 78-year-old woman.
Christchurch woman Nan Withers was bashed by Harry Houkamau, also on parole. That prompted her son Norm to push for the get-tough justice referendum at last year's election.
Paul Dally, who raped, tortured and finally killed Lower Hutt schoolgirl Karla Cardno 11 years ago is expected to face the board next month. Cardno's stepfather Mark Middleton has vowed to kill him when he is released. Dally and Hotene became friends in Paremoremo prison.
Chaplow says the board mostly gets it right but figures show 49.3% of paroled prisoners reoffend within three years. Chaplow says the rate is much higher for people who are finally released having not been paroled.
An intriguing twist to the Hotene case is the presence of Davis at the parole hearing.
Davis was under the impression from the board that Hotene would live with him on his release. But Hotene never arrived - it is understood either the Parole Board or Corrections Department believed Wark's unit was the better place for Hotene. Hotene may have had a say himself - he applied for Wark's unit from prison.