Fake-death husband wins early release

By Jarrod Booker

Bruce Dale is forbidden to contact his sons. Photo / Simon Baker
Bruce Dale is forbidden to contact his sons. Photo / Simon Baker

The early release from prison for an Auckland man who faked his own death has upset former friends and the family he abandoned.

It has also raised concerns for his former wife that Bruce James Dale might try to contact their two children again, and add to the "hell" he has already caused them with his deception.

Dale was released on parole in Christchurch yesterday, after being jailed last September for two years and four months for fraud. He must live at an approved Christchurch address, get counselling and meet other parole conditions until his original release date in October next year.

Dale made it appear he had drowned at Port Waikato in 2002, and fled Auckland to start a new life in Christchurch under the identity of a dead child, Michael Francis Peach.

He was declared legally dead in 2004, allowing $1.12 million in life insurance to be paid to his family.

His deception was uncovered when he applied for a passport in January last year under his real name.

In granting Dale release, the Parole Board said: "We are satisfied that you would not be an undue risk if released on parole. We think further offending to be quite unlikely."

However, Dale's former wife, Sharon Behan-Kitto, said yesterday: "The whole thing just stinks. I don't know what he has done, or how he's managed to pull it off, but obviously he has. I can't fight the justice system.

"As far as I'm concerned, what he did to be put in jail in the first place, that took a really devious, clever man to have pulled something like that off."

Parole conditions prohibit Dale from contacting their sons, aged 14 and 10, but Mrs Behan-Kitto feared he might try anyway.

"It would be in his best interests to stay away, put it that way."

Dale's former friend and business partner in Christchurch, Patrick Van Den Heuvel, said he would have nothing more to do with the man he knew as Mike Peach.

"Everybody deserves to get back on their feet, I suppose, but I don't believe he should be let out so early."

Dale told the Herald at the time of his sentencing that his life had fallen apart when he committed his crimes, but police could have found him if they had made a proper effort. "It's not like I grew a beard or changed my hair or anything."

- NZ Herald

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