The family of a murdered man were shocked to find out his killer had been released without them being told.
Andrew Grabner and Teresa Gunn were knifed to death by Jason Reihana in 2005 in one of the most brutal double murders in New Zealand's history.
Reihana was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 21 years, but was released in August - after serving 14 years - on compassionate grounds because he has terminal cancer.
But authorities didn't tell the Grabner family.
"We were taken by surprise, expecting him to serve 21 years," Jill Grabner, Andrew's sister-in-law, told the Herald on Sunday.
"Not angry, but shocked and upset."
Neither Jill, her husband and Andrew's brother John, nor Andrew's oldest brother Mike were on the Victim Notification Register, which is used to alert victims of serious crime of an offender's release or parole hearing.
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"We didn't know about the Victim Notification Register," Jill said.
"It wasn't a process that was explained to us. If we'd been notified we would have felt more in control, being told what to expect so we could prepare."
The National Party wants to minimise the chances of this happening again by making the register opt-out instead of opt-in.
Grabner said she found out after Reihana's release from Tauranga-based Detective Senior Sergeant Greg Turner, who had thought to phone and warn her about a upcoming article in the Bay of Plenty Times.
But Mike was told by a family member who had seen the article, and expressed dismay about not being told earlier.
"I understand that in this case - a double murder - no victim details were on the parole board's register. Would those doing the review not have thought that having no victims listed is strange and that they should investigate further?"
The Gunn family were not on the register either; they had tried to opt-in but the application had fallen through because of an administrative error, for which police and Corrections later apologised.
They found out about Reihana's release after one of Gunn's sons walked into a cousin's house and found the killer there. "That's really shocking," Jill said.
"I can't imagine what the son must have felt doing that."
Dave Gunn, Teresa's father, said Reihana's early release was a "kick in the guts".
Opt-in or opt-out
Victims have to sign up for the register, but National Party leader Simon Bridges wants them to be signed up automatically with a chance to opt-out.
It is is one of the proposals in National's law and order discussion document that Bridges, who was part of the Crown prosecuting team in the Reihana case in 2007, will release on Tuesday.
Bridges said that Jill had contacted him after Reihana was released.
"When you hear a story like Jill's and know there will be many similar stories, why wouldn't you make it automatic? It's a no-brainer."
Bridges said he would be alarmed if he ran into Reihana, having expected him to be in prison.
"I can only imagine what that would be like for the victim's family.
"There's not many crimes of that sort of seriousness, and if they are out, you do just wonder where they'll be."
Jill said the family was told that Reihana's health had deteriorated so much that he was in no position to harm anyone.
Reihana's parole conditions also banned him from contacting the Grabners.
"Those are only statements on paper, aren't they?" Jill said.
Having a voice
The Grabner family would have liked to have appeared at Reihana's parole hearing in July, Jill said.
She was reluctant to say what the family would have said, but having a voice was just as important as how it was used.
"We would have wanted to represent the family at the hearing and reiterated the seriousness of his crimes - and to say that it was only 14 years of a 21-year non-parole sentence."
She said some people dealt with grief and trauma by compartmentalising, and being shocked by an offender's release had the potential to rupture those compartments.
Andrew's father, George, has previously said that he has forgiven Reihana - though he added that friends and family were still hurting and had their own views.
Jill said the family wasn't angry anymore.
"It's 14 years and you have to move on. But [making the register opt-out] would be good to eliminate shocks and surprises, and the lack of control."
She said Andrew was still missed, especially by John, who was only about a year older than him.
"I didn't spend my childhood with Andrew, but I certainly knew him as a very warm, fun, easygoing man, with a great deal of empathy for people, and also quite a bit of mischief.
"If the subject comes up, it can still be pretty raw. It's difficult to comprehend how such a thing could happen."
The Grabner family was now on the register, after Turner facilitated a meeting between them and the Corrections department.
Turner said he supported changing the register to opt-out.
"I don't think there would be a downside."
He said victims could opt-in now by filling in a form from police or Victim Support.
"But best police practice would be that the officer in charge offers the opportunity to sign up, and supports you in completing the paperwork.
"I would be very disappointed if any of my staff didn't sit down with each of the victims that qualify and, as a minimum, provide them with a form."
A heinous crime
In December 2005, Andrew had been with new girlfriend Gunn at her Tauranga house when a jealous Reihana, Gunn's ex-partner and father of her two boys, stormed in with three knives.
Reihana stabbed Grabner, who jumped out of a window to escape but made it only as far as the other side of the road before dying of a wound to the leg.
Reihana then stabbed Gunn's brother-in-law, Wiki Ngarimu, who was seriously injured.
Gunn had escaped outside, but Reihana found her in the garden of a neighbouring house and stabbed her before turning the knife on himself.
According to a police dog handler, Reihana was stabbing himself in the chest and only stopped when the dog handler directed his dog to bite Reihana's arm.
The court heard how he said, "I ******* killed her. I just want to die.''