Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Murderer accused of parole breach

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A convicted murderer released earlier this year after serving a life sentence was back in court today accused of breaching her parole conditions.

Melissa Anne Wepa spent 15 years behind bars after killing a friend who dobbed her in to police.

She stabbed Porirua woman Caroline Gardiner 50 times before dumping her body down a bank.

Nine months into her life sentence, Wepa - who had affiliations to the Mongrel Mob and Deadly F***ing Bitches gangs - was also charged after nearly biting off another inmate's nipple during a fight.

In 2005, she escaped from prison with another inmate when they used a dummy in their cell beds to fool guards.

She escaped again while serving a three-month corrective training term at Arohata in the early 90s but was caught nearby.

Now, Wepa has been recalled to prison accused of breaching her release conditions.

The 38-year old had been working for a painting contractor and was praised at her last parole board hearing for her excellent work.

But Christchurch District Court was told by defence counsel Michael Starling today that she was no longer working as a painter and was looking for a new job.

She had also changed her address, and there was some confusion over whether she had breached her parole conditions by not receiving written permission from the parole board to do so.

From the dock, Wepa - who wore her long hair across the left side of her face to hide a distinctive lizard tattoo she has taken steps to have removed because it was "holding her back" - denied the breach.

She interrupted proceedings to tell Judge David Saunders her parole officer knew about her shift in address.

"I had permission to move, I was in a high-risk situation," she told the judge.

Wepa had been recalled to prison after the alleged breach.

Judge Saunders noted there had been no fresh offending and said it was up to the parole board to hear all of the evidence and decide what happens next.

The case was deferred to December 13, and should be settled at a parole board hearing by then.

Wepa was released from jail in May despite the board assessing her as a moderate to high risk of reoffending.

But since she was on mood stabilising drugs, had shown promise as a painter, and was subject to strict release conditions, it was thought that her risk could be managed.


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