A gang prospect who fatally stabbed father of three Mark McCutcheon outside a Central Hawke's Bay pub has been refused parole.
Hulio Henry Ataria was jailed for a minimum non-parole sentence of 11 and a half years after stabbing the well-known local agricultural contractor three times in the chest in a carpark near the Sandford Arms Tavern in Ongaonga, on January 23, 2009.
His widow, Paula Stoddart, told Hawke's Bay Today she pushed hard to front Wednesday's Parole Board hearing, which she said was all about "making Mark proud".
"I didn't go down to Wellington as a grieving widow," she said, "it was more about keeping society safe.
"The reality is that he [Ataria] will be back in the community one day, and I wanted to reiterate to the board how dangerous and remorseless he was, and still is."
Her address, read at the hearing, stated she had "feared the year 2020" since sentencing, "knowing each day is another day closer to the reintroduction of an unrepentant killer into our society. He is a killer who never apologised for his crime."
Despite being stabbed late on the night of January 22, 2009, Mr McCutcheon managed to get into his vehicle and drive away — but he never made it home.
A friend found him dead at 6.45 the following morning, still in his ute which had left the road, with his jack russell, Maxine, sitting next to his body.
A postmortem showed one of the three knife wounds had penetrated his heart.
McCutcheon had earlier intervened in an assault between another Mongrel Mob member and his female partner. During the ensuing fight, he fetched a rifle from his ute and knocked the then gang prospect Ataria to the ground with its butt end.
He was later stabbed three times in the chest.
Ataria was aged 23 at the time of his murder trial in the High Court at Napier in March 2010.
At sentencing, Justice Alan Mackenzie increased the non-parole period above the 10-year minimum, stating there were no mitigating factors. He agreed with the Crown that Ataria's decision to attack was "aggressive, and not defensive".
"I consider you became involved as a result of expectations placed on you as a gang prospect."
Throughout the trial Ataria's lawyers repeatedly denied this, claiming he had feared for his life and that his actions weren't motivated by gang aspirations.
Speaking to Hawke's Bay Today after Wednesday's hearing, Stoddart said she couldn't have made the statement at the parole hearing without her friends, family and the "amazing staff" of Victim Support.
"The hearing was also about doing something positive, to show I've survived and others can too. Mark's not here to defend himself, so it's about making him proud.
"We never had the chance to say goodbye to Mark, to tell him he was our hero and how much he was loved and respected. He was taken from us in the most horrific, tragic way.
"We're still dealing with the loss every day and it's our turn to have a voice as a family. To be able to make a difference was important to me, I was really honoured to be there."
The Parole Board's decision has yet to be officially released. It's understood Ataria's next opportunity for parole would be March 2022.