Killer plans new identity

By Kathryn Powley

Judy and Ted Ashton are determined to get justice. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Judy and Ted Ashton are determined to get justice. Photo / Mark Mitchell

This week, fresh from prison, a notorious killer drink-driver will move into a new town and start a new life with little fear of the public discovering his past.

For the second time, this criminal is allowed to have a brand new identity.

Jonathan Barclay - who in December 2006 killed 20-year-old Debbie Ashton in a head-on crash near Nelson - has told Debbie's mother that he is again changing his name.

Judy Ashton, his victim's mum, is pushing to ensure that criminals' histories are tagged to their new identities.

Had that happened in 2006, her daughter might still be alive. When Barclay drove his car at speed on the wrong side of the road, slamming into Debbie's, he was part of the police witness protection programme.

Only a couple of weeks earlier (under his witness protection name, which is suppressed) he'd been charged with drink-driving, lost his licence, been fined and sent on his way as a first-time offender. But that wasn't his first offence - he was on parole for previous crimes, and only a couple of months before he had been disqualified from driving under his real name.

Now, as he prepares to leave prison on Friday under yet another name, Ashton fears he might once more be able to hide his past from police and courts. The terms of his release state that he must reside in the North Island; if he wants to drive he must complete a defensive driving course; and he is to be released to a residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation programme.

Since her daughter's death, Ashton has been determined in her pursuit of justice. She said Debbie would have been horrified by what happened and she was determined to make sure someone was held accountable and official systems were in place to make sure this couldn't happen again.

"If you have a name change, is your criminal record linked to that name? I don't believe that it is."

Nobody from the Ministry of Justice would comment yesterday, but a senior police officer said there were complex processes in place to link an offender's record to his or her new name.

Although Ashton had been assured by the Independent Police Complaints Authority that offenders in the witness protection programme could no longer hide their past behind the scheme, she remained sceptical.

"At a restorative justice meeting in July last year he blatantly told us he would be coming out with a new identity."

She'd been officially told that on release Barclay would no longer have police witness protection, but she believed he had obtained a new identity through Births, Deaths and Marriages.

- Herald on Sunday

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