Cold-case killer Mark Pakenham released on parole

By Angela Woods

Mark Pakenham appearing in the High Court at Hamilton in 2013. Photo / Alan Gibson
Mark Pakenham appearing in the High Court at Hamilton in 2013. Photo / Alan Gibson

Convicted cold-case killer Mark Pakenham was released on parole today.

Pakenham was convicted of the manslaughter of Sara Niethe in 2013 10 years after she went missing.

He was sentenced in August 2013 to six years and seven months in prison for killing his girlfriend. His sentence was due to end on March 16, 2018.

Pakenham was due to face trial for murder when he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of manslaughter.

He injected the mother-of-three with methamphetamine on March 30, 2003, causing her death.

He finally admitted this in a police interview in 2011, but later denied any part in it while in prison in 2014.

Sara Niethe went missing in 2003. Photo / Supplied
Sara Niethe went missing in 2003. Photo / Supplied

Ms Niethe's son, Dion Chamberlain, said in a victim impact statement during sentencing that Pakenham had put the family through extreme distress by not telling them she was dead.

The police offered a $20,000 reward for information on the 30-year-old's disappearance in 2003.

Ms Niethe's body has never been found.

Mr Chamberlain said Pakenham's refusal to divulge the location of the body had worsened his grief.

"I want my mother back," he told the court.

Ms Niethe's best friend Rachel Mains said outside court in 2013 the sentence was too short.

She did not believe the killing was an accident.

"He meant to do it and I hope he rots."

The Parole Board has imposed special conditions on Pakenham's release, including a 10pm curfew for three months.

He is also forbidden to contact the victim's family.

Parole was granted despite the Board saying in their decision Pakenham was "dishonest" in pleading guilty to manslaughter "to avoid a murder conviction" and later denying the charge.

He had attended 12 sessions with a psychologist and a "reintegration hui" during his sentence.

"We accept that his violent offending has now been addressed in part...and because of this he is no longer an undue risk of re-offending," the Board said.

- NZ Herald

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