A man who sexually offended against two young girls will go before the Parole Board tomorrow - despite having recently been convicted for similar offending against another child.
It's caused outrage from the families of Sean Surgeon's victims who are questioning why the hearing is taking place. They say there should be no chance of the Hawke's Bay man being released given his first sentence is not even complete yet, let alone his new one.
"It just doesn't seem right for him to have just been sentenced and still get to see a Parole Board, that doesn't sit right with anyone we've spoken to" said a male family member of one young girl. "Whether it's the law or not - it's unreal to think two months down the track he can be sitting before the Parole Board looking at freedom after admitting to doing another similar act. It's crazy."
Surgeon is serving a three-year-seven-month sentence for the sexual violation of an 8-year-old girl in 2017, and inappropriately touching a 9-year-old girl a decade earlier.
He only admitted offending against the 9-year-old while being questioned about the 2017 case but failed to disclose he had also offended against another young girl in 2014.
The 2014 victim had never told anyone but when she did a charge of unlawful sexual connection was laid and Surgeon was sentenced in June to 11 months in prison.
So, it came with much frustration to the families of two of his victims that he was able to come before the Parole Board this week at all.
The mother of the 2017 victim told the Herald her stomach dropped when her daughter came inside and told her what Surgeon, a family friend, had done to her in a garden shed.
"She was white as a ghost."
"My stomach just dropped, it was absolute sheer panic, everything went through my mind - what's this going to mean for her future, how's she going to handle this."
Since his conviction the mother has gone before the board twice before to tell them about the impact on her daughter and why she believes Surgeon should have to serve his full sentence - which will be up in November.
It is always a stressful time preparing for the hearing and reliving what happened but she didn't think she'd have to do it again this week, given he's had another 11 months added to his sentence.
"It's really unsettling, It's stressful. I don't like any of it. I don't think they get how frustrating it is going through the process."
But, the law states Surgeon is still entitled to a hearing for his original sentence. It is likely the board will take into account the new conviction but the hearing goes ahead regardless.
The Board considered granting Surgeon parole in June 2019 but declined, saying he remained an undue risk because there was no confirmed accommodation available for his release.
In its decision it noted he had written a letter "expressing his deep remorse for the offending, understanding and accepting that he had been a bully towards these children, that he had preyed on them, and that his conduct had been addressed in the treatment programmes that he had undertaken".
The board also noted the views of the victims' families who had "expressed their concern that there may be other persons against whom he had offended."
The mother believed the fact Surgeon failed to mention the 2014 victim was telling in itself about how much remorse he really felt.
Surgeon went before the board again in October, by which time it was aware of the new charges and stood the case down until this year in order for that matter to be dealt with.
Earlier this week, the mother, her partner and the girl's father, reiterated their views to the board in a hearing for the victims. They said he should not get out and they still believed there may be other victims out there and they fear he will offend again.
The mother of the 2014 victim echoed similar sentiments, telling the board in a letter he should not be released yet.
She told the Herald her daughter, who had been inappropriately touched, never told anyone about the offending at the time. The family moved away from Hawkes Bay and she was a happy child who was thriving at school.
It was only when they returned to the area and she began suffering panic attacks, having problems at school and acting out that the truth came out.
"It's been horrendous, her childhood has been ruined."
The mother said Surgeon put her daughter through the stress of going to trial and only admitted his guilt after she gave evidence.
She said she couldn't understand why he was entitled to a hearing this week given he was only sentenced in June for what he did to her daughter.
"I don't even understand how they can look at parole."
She also fears there may be other girls like her daughter, and the victim from 10 years ago, who never came forward at the time and worries about the impact on them if they see him in the community after release.
A Parole Board spokeswoman said the board was aware of the new conviction and sentence. While the end of sentence date does change to reflect the extra 11 months, section 75 of the Parole Act meant the parole eligibility date doesn't change and a hearing still had to be held this week.
LATE 2006/EARLY 2007: He inappropriately touched a 9-year-old girl while visiting the girl's home as a family friend. She never told anyone.
MARCH 2017: Sexually offended against an 8-year-old girl in a garden shed. She told her mother what happened straight away. It was only during the police investigation that he told police about the earlier incident.
JUL 2017: Sentenced to three years and seven months' imprisonment after pleading guilty to one charge of indecent assault and another of unlawful sexual connection.
JUN 2018: Declined parole
JUNE 2019: Declined parole
OCT 2019: Parole Board becomes aware of a third girl coming forward.
JUNE 2020: Sentenced to 11 months for the unlawful sexual connection with a girl in 2014.
SEPT 2020: Fourth hearing before the Parole Board again, on Friday the 4th.