Macdonald faces first chance for freedom

By Kathryn Powley

Ewen Macdonald. Photo / NZ Herald
Ewen Macdonald. Photo / NZ Herald

Ewen Macdonald faces his first Parole Board hearing at Manawatu Prison on Tuesday.

Macdonald is serving a five-year sentence for arson, vandalism and killing deer and calves on neighbouring Feilding farms.

Much of his time in prison was served while on remand and during his trial for the July 2010 murder of his wife's brother, Scott Guy. In July, he was found not guilty of Guy's murder.

Macdonald has served a third of his sentence, meaning he is eligible for parole, but it would be very unusual for parole to be granted at a prisoner's first hearing.

Kylee Guy's sister Chanelle Bullock said Kylee was unlikely to attend the hearing in person. Bullock will read a victim impact statement to the board.

"He has to serve his full sentence. No matter what," she said.

If Macdonald's application is unsuccessful, he can reapply within a year although the board may decide to see him again sooner.

Meanwhile, a prisoner has complained about the way Macdonald's lawyer Greg King handled a previous case.

King, who died last month, was a prominent Wellington defence lawyer whose clients included Macdonald, John Barlow and Clayton Weatherston.

Since his death it has been reported King's legal aid accounts had been under scrutiny.

Law Society president Jonathan Temm told the Herald on Sunday a prisoner on a long term of imprisonment for a "whole range of very serious sexual offences" was at the heart of the report. The prisoner is understood to be in Rimutaka.

"He has made a complaint against Mr King's conduct as his trial counsel and he is represented by a relatively senior member of the profession on the appeal."

Temm would not comment on the merits of the appeal, but noted some people convicted of serious offending often complained about their lawyer.

"I'm not sure whether complaints against Mr King will resonate with a result that [the prisoner] will get a new trial, but who knows? These things do happen."

The prisoner's complaint also claimed impropriety around a legal aid claim.

Temm said there was no complaint before the Law Society about King and he believed the complaint had been to the Ministry of Justice.

However, a ministry spokesman would not comment, citing an order from Coroner Wallace Bain suppressing details around King's death.

- Herald on Sunday

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