Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Killer's release terrifies mother

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The mother of murdered Napier schoolgirl Colleen Burrows is terrified the Mongrel Mob member jailed for the vicious crime will walk free in the city tomorrow.

Colleen was just 16 when gang member Sam Te Hei savagely kicked her and ran her over with a car on the banks of the Tutaekuri River in 1987.

When police found her body, she was unrecognisable.

Tomorrow, Te Hei, now aged in his mid-40s, will walk from prison on day release.

He will spend five hours in the Napier area with no prison guards - just an approved sponsor, One News reported last night.

Colleen's mother, Ida Hawkins, said she was scared for her safety and feared for the lives of her children and extended family.

Ms Hawkins, who now lives in Wairoa, was informed of the release last week. She said a gang associate had yelled threats at her, fuelling her fear of Te Hei's release.

Te Hei was denied parole in February, but the Parole Board said the next steps to his freedom were now being taken.

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said the organisation would lobby the board and the Government that if he was fully released, it was not to the Hawke's Bay area.

"We have seen the effect this has had on Ida and continues to have on her, we have been to parole hearings with her and I am disgusted that Te Hei is even being considered for release," Mr McVicar said. "The crime he committed was so heinous. We will be lobbying the parole board and lobbying the Government that he is not released in Hawke's Bay - that's just more for Ida to deal with."

The psychologist who reports to the parole board described Te Hei as at high risk of reoffending.

The violent offender was sentenced to life behind bars and should have been eligible for release in 1997, but while serving his time in Paremoremo Prison he got another 12 years added to his sentence for attempting to murder a gang prospect. Mr McVicar said the effect Colleen's murder had on Ida and the family was devastating.

"When someone commits a heinous crime like Te Hei did, emphasis should not be about whether or not we can rehabilitate Te Hei but it should be about putting compassion into reducing the trauma for Ida and her family."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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