High profile and recently paroled criminal Dean Wickliffe is back before the courts after he was allegedly caught drink-driving - for the second time since his release.

Wickliffe will appear in the Tauranga District Court next week charged with breaching his release conditions.

It is expected a charge of driving with excess breath alcohol will be added.

Wickliffe, who turned 69 last year, has spent 41 years of his life in prison.

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Of his 50-or-so convictions, the most serious is the manslaughter of Wellington jeweller Paul Miet during an armed robbery in 1972.

Wickliffe was originally charged with Miet's murder, but that was later downgraded to the lesser charge.

Despite that, the life sentence remained in place.

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Wickliffe has been freed and recalled to prison five times between 1987 and 2011.

His most recent release was granted in May last year and he is now living in the Bay of Plenty.

But wasn't long before Wickliffe was back in trouble.

In October he pleaded guilty to two charges, one of breaching a special condition of his parole release by consuming alcohol and another of excess breath alcohol.

He was caught driving along Parton Rd on September 23 with an excess breath alcohol reading of 754mcg - just over three times the adult legal limit of 250mcg.

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It was Wickliffe's fourth drink-driving offence. His previous three convictions were all in 1996, the court heard.

Wickliffe told the Herald he was arrested again on Wednesday night.

He had been staying with his sister and brother-in-law and had "a few beers".

Dean Wickliffe is one of New Zealand's most notorious criminals. Photo / John Borren
Dean Wickliffe is one of New Zealand's most notorious criminals. Photo / John Borren

He had an argument with his sister over a family matter and, angry at her, decided he
did not want to stay at her house anymore.

He got in a car and was heading back to his address in Maketu when he was stopped at a checkpoint a kilometre down the road.

"Instead of doing the sensible thing, waiting for my brother-in-law to drive me home the next day, I decided I wanted to go home then," he said.

"I packed up my stuff and decided to drive myself."

Because of Wickliffe's life sentence he is under permanent Parole Board monitoring.

He could be recalled to prison to serve the rest of his sentence - the rest of his life - if the board choose.

"I'm not too happy with myself," he said.

After his conviction and sentence last year - 90 hours of community work - Wickliffe appeared before the Parole Board at a recall hearing.

They decided not to further punish him.

"Corrections made a really strong case [for his recall to prison] and I was worried,"
Wickliffe told the Herald after the hearing.

"But the Parole Board took a more realistic approach.

"They said I needed to abide by the rules, but they felt I needed more time to adapt."

This time Wickliffe was not expecting leniency.

"This will almost certainly be a recall," he said.

"I've already been given a chance, I don't think I'll be given another one - it's not looking good."

Wickliffe was full of regret for his behaviour.

"It's drink driving and it's a breach of my release conditions," he said.

The Parole Board ordered Wickliffe not to consume any alcohol or drugs.

"I was foolish," he said.

"But here we are.

"It's going to cost me big time."

Wickliffe admitted he had been struggling since his release, particularly with the no-alcohol condition.

He wanted to rekindle old relationships, make new ones - and not being able to have a beer or two with mates or a wine with dinner was difficult.

"It's all turned to custard," he said.

"I thought I was doing well.

"I've got no intention of regressing back to my former life as a career criminal."

The Parole Board could not comment and referred the Herald to the Department of Corrections.

A Corrections spokesperson said an applicatoin had been made for Wickliffe's recall to rison.

"An offender can be recalled to prison if they are an undue risk to the safety of the community; have breached their conditions; have committed an offence punishable by imprisonment or, if subject to residential restrictions, can no longer comply," the spokesperson said.

"The Parole Board will determine whether an interim recall is granted, which would mean that the person is returned to prison."