Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Dean Wickliffe, one of NZ's most high-profile criminals, granted parole

Dean Wickliffe.  Photo / File
Dean Wickliffe. Photo / File

One of New Zealand's most high-profile criminals has been granted parole.

Dean Wickliffe, 68, one the country's longest-serving inmates, has spent more than half his life behind bars.

He is serving a life sentence for the manslaughter of Wellington jeweller Paul Miet during an armed robbery, a sentence originally imposed in 1972.

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Wickliffe has been released and recalled to prison five times between 1987 and 2011.

His last release was on May 9, 2011 but he was recalled the same year after he was charged with and later convicted of manufacturing P and possessing the drug for supply, after an armed police raid at his Maketu property.

Last year he was denied an early release as the Parole Board felt he posed an undue risk to the community.

However in a decision released to the Herald this morning, the board revealed it had granted Wickliffe parole on May 17.

Wickliffe will be released in the next few weeks and will be subject to nine conditions for five years.

He told the board at his hearing this month he wanted it to be his final time before them.

The Herald applied to the board to attend the hearing but was declined on the basis that Wickliffe was appearing via audio visual link.

Dean Wickliffe. Photograph supplied
Dean Wickliffe. Photograph supplied

On May 3, 1972, - 45 years to the day of his parole hearing - Wickliffe was found guilty of murdering Paul Miet, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

In December, 1986, the Court of Appeal directed that a guilty verdict for manslaughter be substituted for that of murder, but that no change be made to the sentence.

"Mr Wickliffe was released on parole for the first time in 1987 and since then has been recalled five times," said Justice Marion Frater, who convened the Parole Board panel for the hearing.

"Each recall was preceded by further offending, including aggravated robbery, escaping, kidnapping, driving with excess breath alcohol, possessing and selling cannabis, and manufacturing and possessing methamphetamine for supply.

"The last recall was in December 2011 he has been in prison ever since."

Justice Frater said that when Wickliffe appeared before the board in April last year he was participating in psychological counselling and doing well, but they did not think he was ready for release.

At the time the board said Wickliffe would benefit from "further reintegration, including continued individual counselling and moving to a self-care unit".

"And that has happened," Justice Frater revealed.

"His security classification reduced to minimum and, in February this year, he moved into the self-care unit.

"He has not caused any problems in the unit. He has not been involved in any incidents or misconduct."

Justice Frater said Wickliffe had continued to engage with a departmental psychologist until February this year, "to good effect".

The psychologist described him as "open and reflective", and his engagement in treatment was deemed satisfactory.

The psychologist observed Wickliffe had an "increased ability to be flexible and tolerate and/or appropriately manage frustration".

He had demonstrated that in the way he had dealt with his inability to get a job.

Wickliffe was approved for Corrections' release-to-work programme last December but although he has had three "apparently successful" job interviews, he has not got work.

"The unit employment broker suggested, and Mr Wickliffe tends to agree, that his notoriety is against him," said Justice Frater.

"In any event, given the reality, Mr Wickliffe has decided that there is no reason to delay his release."

Dean Wickliffe outside Tauranga court in September 1996. BAY OF PLENTY TIMES photograph
Dean Wickliffe outside Tauranga court in September 1996. BAY OF PLENTY TIMES photograph

Wickliffe told the board he planned to live with an old friend.

Although Justice Frater had concerns about the address, it was decided Wickliffe could live there.

"Obviously we have considered this issue very carefully," she said.

"But ultimately, we are satisfied that this is the safest place for Mr Wickliffe and that he will not pose an undue risk if released there, subject to appropriate conditions."

She said Wickliffe would be known in the community he was going to live in and "kept an eye on".

"And any association with his co-offender will quickly come to the notice of probation.

"Secondly, we accept that this is the best area for Mr Wickliffe to obtain employment. Notwithstanding his age, he says that he is hopeful of obtaining employment.

"Thirdly, we accept that Mr Wickliffe has had enough of prison.

"He said that he has nothing in common with the other men in prison; nor does he have anything in common with his own past."

Justice Frater said Wickliffe acknowledged that through his offending he let down his whanau and his late partner.

"He said that losing her was a major turning point," she said.

"That led to him reviewing who he is, where he was and what he wanted. "

The board was satisfied that Wickliffe had learned from his time in self-care and in counselling.

"He said that he had never been given time to prepare for release before," said Justice Frater.

"He has made good use of it."

Wickliffe has also written an autobiography, the board revealed, which had been "therapeutic" for him

"It has caused him to review his life and acknowledge how he has wasted it," said Justice Frater.

"He wants a different retirement."

Wickliffe will be released with a number of conditions.

"We do not see the justification for electronic monitoring, as no whereabouts condition has been proposed," Justice Frater ruled.

"We do, however, think he would benefit from a curfew for the first three months post-release."

A probation report will also be sent to the board in six months about Wickliffe's progress and Justice Frater said if it raised any issues of concern, he may be called back before the board.

Wickliffe was also wanred he would have to submit to drug and alcohol testing if Corrections or police required it.

"This will impose a further restriction on him.

"Accordingly, Mr Wickliffe will be released on parole, subject to the standard conditions set out in Section 14 of the Parole Act 2002, which will continue for life and the following special conditions.

"Unless otherwise specified, the special conditions will continue for five years post-release."

The special conditions are:

• Not to possess or consume alcohol, illicit drugs or psychoactive substances.
• To attend and complete counselling, programmes and treatment as directed by his probation officer.
• To undertake and complete an assessment by a departmental psychologist and attend any treatment recommended, to the satisfaction of the probation officer and psychologist.
• To live at the approved address and not move away without the written approval of a probation officer.
• Until August 23, to comply with an 8pm-6am curfew.
• To notify his probation officer before starting, ending or changing his employment.
• To attend a support hui at an approved venue within four weeks of release and such subsequent hui as may be required by his probation officer.
• Not to communicate or associate with his co-offender without the written approval of his probation officer.
• If directed, to comply with any direction made under section 29B(2)(b) of the Parole Act 2002 to attend a hearing, in November 2017 to allow the Parole Board to monitor his compliance with his release conditions.

- NZ Herald

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