My dad's killer should not go free, says son

The son of a man slain by deranged gunman Stephen Anderson is outraged the mass-killer could soon be released from prison.

David Van de Wetering's father Henk, 51, was shot and killed by Anderson during a rampage through Raurimu on February 8, 1997. Five others died, including Anderson's own father.

It was reported this week that Anderson could be released soon because he was a "model patient". Mental health sources said Anderson was already living in a transition house, had a car, and had been working as a dental assistant.

Mr Van de Wetering said last night there was no way doctors could be sure Anderson wouldn't re-offend.

"Whose taking responsibility? If these people are let out into society and then they re-offend, the government is failing and has its priorities all wrong," he said.

"Is he a better citizen, or is it the drugs that are working," he asked.

Mr Van de Wetering called for the death penalty to be introduced. "I pay my taxes and every week I support a crim getting three meals a day."

His mother was upset with the latest publicity about the massacre, as were other victims families. "They're the ones who are living a death sentence. They are living with the memories - it's devastating. I feel for the victims who have survived. Who knows if he's going to come after them again."

The effects of the massacre - one of the country's worst mass killings - continued to be felt, he said. "I don't have the company of my father anymore. My son hasn't got his grandfather and my father couldn't be at my wedding."

Parole Board members had never been the victims of such crimes and Mr Van de Wetering said he hoped they never would. "These people are going to decide if he's OK enough to be released."

Mr Van de Wetering said he had known Anderson as a child and was concerned about his attitudes toward families even then. "He was not the sort of character I wanted to be associated with, even then."

Families of Anderson's victims only learned of the latest developments when told by reporters, Mr Van de Wetering said.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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