The man who raped and killed a female jogger near Flaxmere 17 years ago has come before the Parole Board for the first time, and been declined.
Dartelle Maremare James Alder was 23-years-old when he ran down Wellington finance worker Margaret Lynne Baxter on Stock Rd and took her to a nearby house where he raped, sexually violated and killed her by striking her head with a pipe and stabbing her 35 times.
On the morning he was due to stand trial he pleaded guilty murder, rape, abduction for sex and two charges of unlawful sexual connection, and was found guilty by jury of assaulting his victim using his vehicle as a weapon.
He was sentenced to serve a minimum non-parole period of 15 years in the High Court in December 2001 and, following a Crown appeal, this was increased to 17 years.
Now aged 40, he came before the Parole Board for the first time on January 24 this year where the board heard his progress in custody had been "mixed".
In 2006, he was accused of murdering Sonny Keremete, who died after receiving stab wounds at the Hawke's Bay Regional Prison, but he was subsequently acquitted of his murder after a trial on the basis of self-defence.
He had been at the Whanganui Prison since 2008 with a low security classification and was described as a "very compliant and hard-working prisoner".
"He is living in a harmony unit and working as a mess man and in the timber processing industry. He has a foreman-type role," the decision read.
Over the years Alder had attained a number of NZQA work training credits including first aid, forklift, health and safety and several timber processing related qualifications.
Because of identified dynamic risk factors, he had been given an override to undertake the Adult Sex Offender Treatment Programme (ASOTP) and had been working with a psychologist since June to prepare for the intensive, group-base treatment programme.
"He is assessed as posing a moderate to low risk of further violent and/or sexual offending. However if he re-offends the consequences to potential victims are likely to be catastrophic and result in death."
The decision also noted the Parole Board had talked with Alder about his offending.
"At the time of the trial he said he could not remember a lot of what happened. He told us that in the year after the offending, he had flashbacks, but blocked them out.
"He is now able to recall most of what happened, but his memories are somewhat disjointed. He attributes his index offending to [withheld]. He says that he has difficulty dealing with emotions. He becomes overwhelmed by them."
The board had told him of the meeting they had on the morning of January 23 with members of the victim's family.
"They are a very compassionate family. Their primary concern is that, while in prison, he receives appropriate treatment so that he does not re-offend post release. They do not want other victims.
"Nor do they want other families to have to experience the traumatic type of events that they, their siblings, and their now deceased mother did and which continue to haunt them all."
In response, Alder had acknowledged receiving a letter from the victim's mother when he went to prison and said it "broke his heart".
"He said that he could not express how sorry he was for what he put both the victim's family and his own whanau through and undertook to try to use his time in prison to deal with the issues which led to his offending," the decision read.
Alder did not seek parole at the January hearing and his counsel asked that he be brought back before the board once he had completed the ASOTP, which was likely to begin within the next month and take at least nine months.
"In our view, there is no likelihood of Mr Alder being released on parole once he has completed the programme. While that is an important step, it will by no means be the end of the journey for him.
"His responses and reactivity need to be tested in a variety of situations and over time. At some stage he needs to restart [withheld], which he has not completed, and then there will be a long period of reintegration. He also needs to work on his release plan."
A final note was made for the need for him to immediately re-engage with [withheld] to assess his mental health needs and the appropriateness of his current medication regime.
Parole was declined and Alder's next hearing was set to be in roughly two years' time, before January 24 2020 at the latest.