The family of Blessie Gotingco have welcomed an independent review of Corrections' monitoring of her killer.
Tony Robertson was released from prison in December 2013 after serving a sentence for abducting and indecently assaulting a five-year-old child. Five months later he killed Ms Gotingco while being electronically monitored.
Corrections Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said yesterday he was confident Corrections had done everything they could to monitor Robertson, but he now wants the department's role to be reviewed.
"I have decided the family of Blessie Gotingco and the public need some independent assurance about Corrections' part in the handling of the Robertson case," Mr Lotu-Iiga said.
"Although this is an isolated incident, the public need to have confidence that they are safe in our communities and that is why I want an independent review of the action taken in relation to Robertson's oversight after he was released from prison."
Mr Lotu-Iiga said he was seeking advice on who will lead the review and what form it will take, and said he planned to discuss the matter at a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
The Gotingcos' spokeswoman, Ruth Money, said the family was "relieved" to hear of the review.
"They are thankful to Mr Lotu-Iiga for announcing the review," she said. "For the minister to come out in support of the family who called for this review, and in doing so supporting the wider public, it gives them a sense of relief.
"They are keen to be involved in the review, in terms of understanding the scope of the inquiry. They want to make sure that it really is independently done, and by a suitable person."
Before the minister's announcement, Ms Money had criticised Corrections and urged training for probation officers for dealing with "grooming behaviour".
"[Robertson] was an impression manager so he managed to convince people that he was okay, but he breached within days of release. In other countries that would be a red flag to say this guy's not coping."
She said that the the judge dealing with the breach even said Robertson's accommodation, near a park with children, was not suitable, yet he was allowed to stay.
She also hit out at Correction for "re-victimising" the family for a "press release that basically said there's nothing that we could have done. From a victim's perspective that's not good enough."
Robertson was convicted two months ago of the rape and murder of Ms Gotingco but his name and past were suppressed until yesterday as he fought to keep his identity secret.
At the time of Ms Gotingco's murder, Robertson was being electronically monitored for a previous crime - he had spent eight years in prison for abducting and indecently assaulting a 5-year-old girl in Tauranga. That was suppressed during his murder trial.
Labour's Corrections spokesman Kelvin Davis said the Government needed to identify what went wrong, "and ensure that nothing like this happens again".
"There are some really very serious questions to answer. When these dangerous people are released from prison the public need to know everything possible is being done to keep people safe."
Mr Lotu-Iiga said the review was announced after yesterday's lifting of Robertson's name suppression as it "was appropriate at this time that it is all public and out in the public domain".
He did not think it was appropriate to launch the review while name suppression was still in place.
Justice Minister Amy Adams said it was too early to tell if something went wrong in the case, or whether any changes to the law might be necessary.
"It is too early to guess where that [the review] might land...but we continue to review the policy framework to see if there are changes that might be required, and we will continue to do that through this process and as the independent review concludes."
Asked about a suggestion from the Sensible Sentencing Trust that preventative detention could be added at the end of a sentence, Ms Adams indicated that would be a step too far.
"I think it would be a significant departure from our legal framework to start changing the rules of the sentence as it concludes."
Act Party leader David Seymour said the tragic case showed the need for further changes to the use of preventative detention.
"[Robertson's] earlier trial for abducting and sexually assaulting a five year old girl led the Crown to apply for an open-ended sentence of periodic detention. Regrettably, the judge gave him the benefit of the doubt, and instead he was given an eight year sentence.
"But eight years later he had not made any attempt at rehabilitation. At that time the judge should have been able to revisit the earlier decision to give Robertson the benefit of the doubt because of the possibility of rehabilitation.
"At present, however, this is not possible. The law needs to change to give judges and the Crown the ability to revisit those earlier decisions, as those decisions are made on the basis of informed guesses as to future behaviour."
Best of its ability
This morning Corrections northern regional commissioner Jeanette Burns said the department managed Robertson's case to the best of its ability, with the tools it had available. "The person responsible for this horrible crime ... is Tony Robertson, the offender himself.
"What I can tell you is that Corrections monitored Tony Robertson very carefully to the required standard and in some cases actually above that standard."
Robertson was being monitored three times a week by a probation officer, and this was reasonable given the level of risk he posed, Ms Burns said.
"He had a high level of management oversight, we were using GPS as another tool. GPS is not the silver bullet but it certainly is an effective tool to help us to monitor these offenders. We believed that we were doing what was necessary to monitor him given the risk he posed."
Ms Burns told Newstalk ZB that while in the community, Robertson was attending drug and alcohol counselling, and was being monitored by a psychologist.
She also defended a decision to allow Robertson to live in an area near parks and schools, despite his criminal history. "In urban Auckland there are no streets without children and most streets have parks nearby, so we make that risk assessment, in this particular case the parks were outside of a kilometre.
"No one likes to have these offenders in their streets ... the best thing for these offenders is to have them in a home that is supported by family and known by police who are monitoring that area."
She said neighbours were not notified of Robertson's history, because Corrections had to balance the risk of having suitable accommodation for offenders. "It gives us the best shot that we have to monitor these offenders in a known address. If neighbour notification happens sometimes people can be quite vindictive around these offenders ... and they keep moving.
"As I said before it is much better to have them at a stable address, that's known to police and us, so we can keep them monitored."
Ms Burns said authorities could now apply for a Public Protection Order, new legislation approved by Government, which would give Corrections the opportunity to apply to have high risk offenders kept on prison grounds.
Anger at location of abuser
Members of the North Shore community where Tony Robertson lived are outraged at the news he is a convicted child abuser.
Some of his former neighbours in Monte Cassino Place in Birkdale said it was not the right place for such an offender. There are at least seven schools and childcare centres within 2km of the street.
Wendy Darke, who lives in the apartment block next to where Robertson had lived, was shocked by yesterday's revelations.
"When he was living here my son was not even 18 months old and I wasn't working during the day at the time, so we were always around and I used to see him all the time. Our balcony looked down on his."
She said there were "heaps" of kids living in the street, including families with young children in the same apartment block as Robertson.
"It makes me really, really angry reading what I read today, to know all about his previous convictions, because he should never, ever have been put in this area."
Bruce Shepherd, who lives down the road from Robertson's former apartment, said neighbours should have been given a heads-up.
He said a friend of his son lived next door to Robertson and had no idea of his previous convictions.
"They had kids - not young kids - but they had kids and I think there was a lady next door who had a baby."
Mr Shepherd's three sons - aged 21, 19 and 17 - had all gone to schools in the area.
"I mean you couldn't have picked an area that's closer to the schools, really," he said.
Karla Hill, who has two preschoolers and lives nearby, said she no longer walked her dog at night because of the murder.
"It's a shame, it's a shame that people with those sorts of histories are out in the public ..."
2005: Tony Robertson is convicted of several offences, the most significant relating to the abducation and molestation of a 5-year-old girl.
2006: An 8-year sentence is imposed against Robertson, who began the year in custody hitting a prison guard over the head with an electric fan.
2008: Robertson's final appeal to the Supreme Court over his conviction fails.
2013 December: At the end of an 8-year sentence, Robertson is released under strict conditions imposed by the Parole Board including wearing a GPS tracker.
2014 January: Robertson is convicted of his first breach of release conditions and arrested on his second breach.
2014 February: Department of Corrections successfully seeks an Extended Supervision Order, requiring Robertson to wear a GPS tracker for 10 years, among other conditions.
2014 March: Police check Robertson's GPS movements and clear him during an inquiry into a potentially indecent approach to a child near his home.
2014 May: Blessie Gotingco goes missing walking home from the bus stop near her home. Robertson is arrested and charged with her murder.
2015 May: Robertson is convicted of the murder and rape of Mrs Gotingco.
2015 July: Name suppression is lifted