Bank robber, drug cook, prison escapee, killer - and now, author.

Dean Wickliffe, one of New Zealand's most infamous criminals is set to publish a book about his life and crime just months after being released on parole.

He spoke exclusively to the Weekend Herald about the book, titled A Lifetime Behind Bars, which will be released in December.

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Wickliffe, who turned 69 last month, has spent 41 years of his life in prison.

Dean Wickliffe, one of New Zealand's most high-profile criminals and prison escapee. Photo / Bretty Phibbs
Dean Wickliffe, one of New Zealand's most high-profile criminals and prison escapee. Photo / Bretty Phibbs

He revealed that after his first burglary as a teenager, he became almost addicted to offending.

"We broke into a warehouse where I used to work ... I saw where the foreman had put money in a canvas bag.

"We took about £350, I recall that was about the equivalent of a year's wages back then.

"The freedom it gave us was amazing - it was our first taste of what it would be like to have unlimited amounts of money, we could purchase anything we wanted.

"I got hooked on that lifestyle."

Of his 50-or-so convictions, the most serious is the manslaughter of Wellington jeweller Paul Miet during an armed robbery in 1972.

Wickliffe was originally charged with Miet's murder, but that was later downgraded to the lesser charge.

Despite that, the life sentence remained in place.

Dean Wickliffe has spoken for the first time in nearly a decade about his 41 years behind bars and about his book about his life of crime and his biggest regrets. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Dean Wickliffe has spoken for the first time in nearly a decade about his 41 years behind bars and about his book about his life of crime and his biggest regrets. Photo / Brett Phibbs

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

His most recent release was granted in May and he is now living in the Bay of Plenty.

But wasn't long before Wickliffe was back in trouble.

On September 28 he appeared in the Tauranga District Court charged with drink driving and breaching a special condition of his parole by consuming alcohol.

Yesterday Wickliffe was back in court and, through his lawyer, he entered an intimated guilty plea to both charges.

He was remanded on bail until his next date, which will be before a judge.

The alleged breach of conditions means Wickliffe may also be recalled to prison again.

He will go before the Parole Board early next month to learn his fate.

Today, in his first full interview in almost a decade at Mount Maunganui, Wickliffe speaks about his recent arrest, his life and his new book.

Handwritten during his last stint in prison, the original manuscript for the book was 900 pages.

He submitted it to several publishers but, unwilling to compromise on the content or soften it in any way, he decided to release it himself.

"I decided to self-publish so it could be my own story in my own words," he told the Weekend Herald.

Dean Wickliffe outside Tauranga court in September 1996. Photo / File
Dean Wickliffe outside Tauranga court in September 1996. Photo / File

The book will cover Wickliffe's childhood and troubled home life, his descent into crime, including his first bank robbery, and two escapes from New Zealand's toughest prison.

Wickliffe is the only person to have escaped from Auckland Prison at Paremoremo.
It also delves into the penal system - which Wickliffe claims is fuelled by cruelty and punishment - and his battles against Corrections for better treatment and conditions for inmates over the years.

He has worked with a prison guard he met on the inside, now retired, to publish the book and is hoping that it will give people a real insight into the lives of inmates over the years.

"This is a story that needs to be told," he said.

"It's not just my story - it's about all of us who shared this journey."

Wickliffe at his sentencing on drug and firearm charges in the Tauranga District Court in April 2010. Photo / File
Wickliffe at his sentencing on drug and firearm charges in the Tauranga District Court in April 2010. Photo / File

The book's introduction was penned by Sir Peter Williams QC in January 2015, six months before his death.

Sir Peter was one of the country's most respected legal minds and a prison reform campaigner.

"This book reveals a man with his own code of morality, albeit bizarre at times, with a determination to reveal the truth, even if this is not always self-serving.

"It exemplifies with graphic detail faults of our penal policies and those responsible for their formation and execution.

"Dean does not minimise his own faults. A product of a violent and uncaring childhood he depicts with meticulous probity and underserved self-criticism his subsequent life of crime and incarceration.

Sir Peter said "as a work of criminology, there is no textbook to equal" to Wickliffe's chapters on "compelling demand for penal reform".