A murderer sentenced to life in prison after beating his friend to death with a crowbar and dumping her body in the Waitakere Ranges has been denied parole.
In 1999, West Auckland man Dean Phillips was found guilty of murdering Karen Stanley-Hunt the year before.
He smashed the Silverdale mother's head six times with a crowbar and wrapped her body in carpet, drove her to the Waitakeres and slid her down a bank.
He then spent 24 hours with distressed friends and family, pretending to be as concerned as them, even joining in searches for the missing woman.
Phillips appeared before the Parole Board on January 24 but did not seek to be released, saying he accepted he had more work to do in prison.
The board was told that since his last hearing, his interactions with both staff and other offenders had improved.
"He has been seen to remove himself from situations involving interpersonal conflict and has been putting into practice the lessons learned in the rehabilitative programmes he has attended," said Justice Marion Frater.
Phillips had also completed a horticultural course and had been working full time in a community garden outside the prison perimeter.
Phillips hoped to move to an external care unit and participate in further escorted outings. He has already been allowed to go on escorted shopping trips.
"We support the continuation and development of these reintegrative initiatives. However, we made clear to Mr Phillips that the fact that we are supporting ... is not to be taken as an indication that we or a future board would necessarily support his eventual release on parole," said Justice Frater.
"That may be appropriate at some time in the future but it is unlikely to be a realistic or safe option immediately."
Phillips was told that the board had earlier in the week met Ms Stanley-Hunt's family, who said they were sceptical about his professed change and improvement in prison.
"They wonder whether, by completing programmes, he has simply been ticking the boxes," Justice Frater said.
"They asked the board to bear in mind that being minimum security does not equate to being minimum risk. They talked about the two different Mr Phillips - the polite considerate man who visited their homes and the man who could commit brutal murder and endeavour to cover his traces."
Phillips acknowledged his victims and reiterated that if he was released, he would not go into areas where he was likely to come into contact with them.
Before killing Ms Stanley-Hunt, Phillips racked up a lengthy list of convictions including a vicious rape in 1983, robbing a 17-year-old girl at gunpoint in 1989 and a number of other assaults, weapons and dishonesty offences.
He was also declined parole in February last year.
The board will consider Phillips again in 12 months.