He may have been wearing shorts, a green prison-issue T-shirt and black jandals - but Ewen Macdonald was serious about yesterday's bid for freedom.

Behind-bars counselling and time to reflect had resulted, he said, in significant personal change in the year since he was first refused parole.

Last year's unsuccessful hearing had come hot on the heels of the trial at which he was acquitted of murdering brother-in-law Scott Guy.

He admitted to not thinking straight about the lesser crimes that resulted in his being jailed for five years - including the vandalising of Scott and wife Kylee Guy's new house. At the time, he was found to be narcissistic, with little remorse or understanding of the impact his vengeful crimes had had on his victims.


Yesterday, he remained composed when grilled by the three-person parole board panel, comprising a High Court judge, a forensic psychologist and a former probation officer.

He told them he was a changed man. He struggled to recognise himself as that shadowy criminal who went on night-time "missions" to terrorise his family and neighbouring Feilding farmers.

In recent months at Rolleston Prison outside Christchurch, he had been working for a local Canterbury firm splitting wood, and helping to clear downed trees at a golf course.

He had done his counselling, tried to get a fulltime job on the outside, kept a daily Thoughts Journal and admitted his faults, he said.

When the parole board rejected his bid for release, he smiled and thanked them before walking back into the cells.