Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Golf club officials suggest Macdonald embellished experience

Ewen Macdonald. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Ewen Macdonald. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Officials at the golf club where Ewen Macdonald worked to clear up wind-damaged trees suggests he embellished his experiences there to the Parole Board.

Macdonald, acquitted last year of murdering brother-in-law Scott Guy, was on Monday denied parole for a second time.

The 33-year-old is halfway through a five-year sentence for a crime spree targeting neighbouring farms, which included vandalising a new home being built by Feilding farmers Scott and Kylee Guy.

During the Parole Board hearing at Christchurch Men's Prison, he said he was rehabilitated and was seeking an early release to a relative's address in Christchurch.

He said he'd been on work placements doing forestry jobs, splitting logs and lawnmowing at locations across Canterbury.

He said he'd done about four weeks' work at a local golf course alongside 10-15 members, tidying up debris from storms that ripped through the region in September and October.

He said the golf course - which cannot be named for legal reasons - knew he was there and who he was. Macdonald said his time there had passed without incident.

Yesterday the club expressed surprise at the claims, saying most members didn't know he'd been on their course.

"He would've been on the big prison gang that came out here, did some work, and left," a spokeswoman said.

"We don't know him personally. We never know who is in the gang. They only deal with their prison officers generally. They didn't work with the club members."

Macdonald's claims that he'd worked at the course for about four weeks were "stretching it a bit", the spokeswoman said, adding it was more like four to five days.

Another club official said: "We didn't have any contact with him at all. The president knew he was there, as did the greenkeeper, who was the first point of contact, but that was about it.

"Any interaction between him and the public, or our members, was non-existent."

Yesterday a spokeswoman said the Parole Board did not comment on individual decisions.

Lawyer Peter Coles, who acted as Macdonald's counsel during the hearing, said it was "not a matter within my knowledge" so he was "not able to, nor authorised to comment".

At the hearing Parole Board panel chairwoman Justice Marion Frater said Macdonald was a man "of some notoriety" and asked how he dealt with that.

Macdonald said he had worked alongside members of the public without issues. A local employer had even offered him a job on a handshake deal, he said.

He had visited the proposed workplace several times and got to know his potential boss and future workmates, Macdonald said.

However, the panel said it was not satisfied he no longer posed an undue risk to the safety of the community.

Macdonald will have to wait a year before his next tilt at freedom.

- APNZ

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