A man who murdered a child when he was just 15 has been denied parole.

Robin James Pitney was sentenced to life imprisonment after murdering 11-year-old Timaru boy Leif Wulff at Caroline Bay in 1991.

Pitney is now 41 but was 15 when he stabbed Wulff to death on the beachfront.

Since he was sentenced in June 1992, Pitney has been released on parole four times.


Each time he has been recalled to prison.

His most recent release was on March 27 this year.

He lasted only seven weeks in the community before he was hauled back to prison for breaching his conditions.

Pitney was staying at drug rehab centre Odyssey House in Christchurch and concerns were raised that he was using illicit substances.

He underwent saliva and urine screening with positive results.

When he learned of the result, he cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and went on the run.

He was eventually located, charged and in May he was sentenced to two months' imprisonment for breaching his release conditions.

Because he was sentenced to life in prison though, his release can only be authorised by the Parole Board.

At the time of his most recent offending the board said Pitney "did not in fact accept that he was using drugs, nor did he accept that there could have been a positive result".

It ruled that he was an "undue risk to the community", had breached his special release conditions by using drugs and failing to remain for the duration of the rehab programme.

The Herald can reveal that Pitney appeared before the Parole Board again on September 26.

"The circumstances leading to his recall this time were almost identical to those which led to his recall in February/March last year," said board panel convener Justice Marion Frater.

In her parole decision she said Pitney was undertaking a six-month drug treatment programme in prison.

"He did not seek parole," she said.

"He wants to complete the programme and build a strong release plan."

It is understood Pitney wants to return to Odyssey House if and when he is released.

If that happens, it will be the third time he has been paroled to stay there.

"He said the staff there support," said Justice Frater.

She said Pitney was "fortunate" to have a "ongoing support" from one person, who was not named in her decision.

A mentor visited him regularly and he was said to be "rebuilding support with other family members".

"Parole is declined today," Justice Frater said.

"The only issue is when to bring Mr Pitney back (before the board).

"We are not prepared to bring him back immediately following the anticipated conclusion of the drug treatment programme at the end of January next year.

"In our view he needs time to consolidate and begin the reintegrative process once more.

"How he does that is for others to determine."

Frater ruled that Pitney would remain in prison for another year at least.

His next hearing will be in September 2018.

"Mr Pitney needs to understand that there will be no prospect of parole until he demonstrates that he understands himself and can control his behaviour, in particular, he needs to show that he can deal with difficult situations and act responsibly," she said.

"He is the one who takes or has taken drugs and he is the one who, in the past, has run off when the going got tough.

"The future is in his hands."