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Anger at Brad Shipton parole request

By Sandra Conchie

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Former policeman and convicted pack rapist Brad Shipton's bid to have his parole conditions cancelled has upset victims rights groups.

Both Louise Nicholas, a survivor advocate for Rape Prevention Education, and Sensible Sentencing Trust in Tauranga have spoken out after learning of Shipton's application to have his standard and special parole conditions discharged.

Bradley Keith Shipton was released on parole from Wanganui prison in November 2008 after serving three years of his 8 years sentence for the pack rape of a 20-year-old woman at Mount Maunganui beach hut in 1989.

The woman was pack raped by police officers Shipton and Bob Schollum and Tauranga millionaire Peter McNamara after she was lured to the hut on the pretext of a lunch date with one of the men.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

The trio was convicted of the rape in 2005 and jailed on August 5, 2005.

Schollum was jailed for eight years while McNamara received seven years.

All three men have since been paroled, McNamara in January 2008 while Schollum and Shipton were released in November 2008.

Shipton's sentence is due to end on January 3, 2014 but he applied to the Parole Board earlier this year to have the terms of his release changed.

Sonja de Friez, the Parole Board's communications manager, told the Bay of Plenty Times that a Parole Board hearing with Shipton was held in February and the board also met the victim at Waikeria Prison late last week.

Ms de Friez said she was not able to release the exact details of the conditions Mr Shipton was seeking to have varied at this stage in the process, but she was able to confirm he had applied to have his special and standard conditions discharged.

It was anticipated the board's decision would be released next week, she said.

Ms de Friez said any offender subject to release conditions imposed by the Parole Board was able to apply to have them varied or discharged at any time.

"Parole variation applications are extremely ordinary and even if the parolee wants to attend a funeral or move house they must seek permission to do so," she said.

She said the board was able to decide these applications without hearing from any person but may seek information from anyone else it considers has or may have an interest in the application.

"In the case of Mr Shipton's application the board decided that it should meet with the registered victim before a final decision is made."

But Shipton would continue to be recallable to prison at any time until his sentence ends in January 2014, she said.

Shipton was released on parole after the board said it had weighed up all the legal tests, the views of the victim and in light of two psychological assessments and reached the "inevitable"conclusion that he did not pose an "undue" risk to the community.

His release conditions included him living at a designated address and a ban on communicating or associating with his co-offenders or the victim. He is also barred from having any media contact, and must undertake counselling or programmes as directed.

Shipton's victim was unavailable for comment.

But Ken Evans, spokesperson for the Tauranga branch of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, said the organisation expected the Parole Board to apply appropriate conditions of release as per the Parole Act.

"We would not expect a convicted rapist to be given any special dispensation," he said.

Mr Evans said: "Mr Shipton already received early release from prison which is the first big point and I think the community was shocked about that. I am sure they would not be happy if his request to have his parole conditions softened further was granted."

The trust urged the Parole Board to consider the victim.

"Mr Shipton may want to get on with his life but for the victim this is something she will never get over and for her it is a life sentence."

Louise Nicholas agreed.

"It is absolutely appalling that he wants his parole conditions changed because he wants to move on with his life. So does the victim who must live with this for the rest of her life. He was convicted and sentenced for a heinous crime and he needs to pay for it by serving out his time. It would be beyond the pale if his release conditions were relaxed in any way."

Ms Nicholas accused Shipton, Schollum and former assistant police commissioner Clint Rickards of raping her in Rotorua in the 1980s. The men were acquitted in that case at a 2006 High Court trial.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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