Editorial: Parole laws need to be changed

By Andrew Austin


Phillip Layton Edwards is certainly not the sort of person any community would want roaming the streets.

The former Napier man is alleged to have abducted two-year-old Gabriel Donnelly from an address in Auckland at the weekend. Thankfully the little boy is back with his mother, but at the time of writing, Edwards was still out there.

Make no mistake, Edwards is a troubled and dangerous man. In 2004 he was found guilty of the manslaughter of celebrity fashion and interior designer David McNee, 55, in Auckland. He was sentenced to nine years in prison after brutally killing Mr McNee in July 2003.

In light of the alleged abduction at the weekend, a decision by the Parole Board to release Edwards in February last year will come in for some criticism, but it seems as if, once again, the board had no choice.

When releasing him, the parole board said: "The psychologist assessed him as posing a high risk of violent reoffending. The release proposal is that he would have mental-health-supported accommodation. That will be important to him."

The disturbing thing about this case is that Edwards killed Mr McNee only 11 days after being released from prison in Hawke's Bay, where he had been serving a sentence for assaulting a female. He was released with conditions at that stage as well.

It is incredible to think that this man is at large again. If our justice system and the Parole Board do not have the tools at their disposal to keep men like him in jail, then it is time to change the law. Clearly he is a danger and when he is caught - hopefully before he violently offends again - the justice system need to be able to ensure he can never be a threat to society again.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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