A man who killed his wife with a tomahawk has had his bid for freedom quashed by the New Zealand Parole Board.

John Frederick Ericson, 54, is serving a life sentence after pleading guilty in 2000 to the murder of his wife, Sandra.

He killed her after striking her in the back of the head with a tomahawk 22 times as she slept in 1999.

At his parole hearing last month the board denied Ericson parole on the grounds that a definitive assessment of risk needed to be completed before parole could be considered.


During the hearing it was submitted by Ericson's council that the 54-year-old had completed the requisite individual psychological treatment, was housed in a self care unit and was working in a trusted position. His release plan involved release to supported accommodation.

The board accepted Ericson had been undertaking individual psychological treatment sessions for some months now, and that they had been useful. "However, it seems that much of the work that they have done has focused on aspects of his personal history, rather than the index offending, and that there is much more work to do in that regard."

A report dated December 9, 2015, found, "treatment has seen a number of disclosures made that when fully understood and realised may contribute to changes in Mr Ericson's estimated risk of recidivism".

Given that it was recommended that until such time that full information had been gathered from Ericson, a definitive updated assessment of risk of re-offending be postponed.

The board also accepted Ericson's risk had consistently been assessed as low but noted the above comments in the December report.

"It is important that a definitive assessment of risk be completed before a further decision on Mr Ericson's release on parole is made. We ask that it be completed for the next hearing."

It said the assessment should take into account, not only the work which Mr Ericson has recently undertaken to address his offending, but also all relevant assessments made at the time of his offending.

Ericson was first eligible for parole in 2009. But he was declined parole that year and the following year, when the Parole Board said he was not "in the reintegration phase of his sentence".

In 2007, he spent 26 hours on the run after escaping from a Wellington Prison work party.

Ericson will reappear before the board in October where his release on parole will be reconsidered.