In the Matter of Corrections Act 1997
In the Matter of an application for Parole by J M B
26 July 2019
JMB (“the applicant”) is currently serving a sentence of imprisonment of 5 years with a non-parole period of 2 ½ years imposed upon his conviction for manslaughter.
The applicant became eligible for consideration for parole on 21 July 2018.
The applicant’s application came before the Board on 26 July 2019. On that occasion the applicant was present at the hearing and was invited to provide any information he had in support of his application and made himself available for questioning by the Board.
A pre-parole report prepared on behalf the Board had been read to the applicant prior to his appearance at the hearing.
In determining the application, the Board has had regard to the following statutory criteria:-
The Corrections Act 1997, s72, establishes a statutory criteria for determining suitability for parole.
S72 (4) specifically provides as follows:
“In determining whether or not a prisoner should be released on parole, the Board is to take into consideration –
When considering the application for parole of a sex offender s31(3)(b) of the Act is also relevant:
The purpose of parole:
The system of parole recognises the capacity of some prisoners for change and reform, the benefits of supervision, treatment and program delivery in the community and ultimately the potential this has for the protection of the community by reducing the risk of reoffending and supervising the reintegration of offenders.
When considering eligibility for parole this purpose must be weighed against the risk each prisoner may pose to members of the community if released to serve the remainder of their sentence amongst them and the ability to remove or mitigate that risk by the imposition of appropriate conditions.
The applicant is 19 years of age. He began using cannabis and drinking alcohol at approximately the age of 12 years. More recent to his offending behaviour he commenced use of crystal methamphetamine (ice).
The applicant has engaged in offending behaviour since a youth and has in the past been subject to probation and community service orders. Indeed, at the time of his current offending behaviour he was subject to a probation order. Previous offences include matters of stealing, burglary, aggravated burglary and assault.
At the time of his sentencing on this matter the Court noted that the nature of his criminal history revealed “a reckless disregard for life and deliberate risk-taking”.
The applicant had surrounded himself with a like-minded antisocial cohort who had disregard for the safety of others, themselves and the law.
The applicant also suffers from mental health and cognitive deficits which contribute to his poor decision making. A report from psychologist, Mr Damian Minehan, obtained at the time of his sentencing, noted the existence of “poor judgment, impulsivity and tendency to not foresee all care about consequences”.
Certainly these deficits were reflected in a lengthy and continued history of poor behavioural episodes and rule infractions whilst housed at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre. The poor behaviour was unremitting and frequent. Indeed it was noted by the staff at the Ashley Youth Detention Centre that the applicant, despite then being 2 years into his sentence, appeared to show no movement toward rehabilitation or showing remorse.
Upon entering into the adult prison environment the applicant’s behaviour appears to have moderated. Whilst between 30 July 2018 and 30 January 2019 there continued to be some occasions of misbehaviour, specifically possession of an article that was not authorised, resisting or obstructing a correctional officer and refusal to comply with a direction or order, the behaviour that was previously evident in the Ashley Youth Detention Centre context had significantly reduced. This change reflects a greater maturity and improved insight. When queried about this at the time of the hearing the applicant noted that he had decided that he needed to “pull his head in” and to “care”.
The applicant has engaged in therapeutic programs including the Equips Addiction Group, Apsley, Equips Aggression, Smart Recovery (which is ongoing) as well as engaging in vocational work including certificate III in asset maintenance, Foundation English and a certificate I in skills for vocational pathways. The latter two are both ongoing.
The applicant has had the benefit of one section 42 leave episode to provide an opportunity for engagement with his support network in the Community. This leave was conducted without incident.
The circumstances of the applicant’s offending was horrendous. As a result of his actions a family have been left bereft of their partner and mother and a child has had a premature and abrupt entry into the world. For that child their birthday will forever be a reminder of the death of their mother.
At the time of his offending behaviour the applicant was 15 years of age. As identified above he was the product of significant mental health, cognitive, drug abuse and antisocial impacts and influences. In this context, it was nevertheless the applicant who decided to steal and drive a vehicle. He was accompanied by three other youths all of his age or younger. Whilst driving the vehicle, he engaged in a prolonged period of unsafe driving through various regions of greater Hobart.
At the same time, the victim, then 33 weeks pregnant, was driving her two-year-old child home after having dropped her partner at his work. Driving lawfully the victim drove into the intersection coming into collision with the vehicle driven unlawfully and heedlessly by the applicant resulting in a catastrophic collision and the victim’s death.
In sentencing the applicant the Honourable Justice Wood noted particularly the following:
The applicant has made a previous application for parole, which was refused primarily on the basis that he was not at that stage ready for a parole order and needed to engage more in addressing his offending behaviour and addictions. A concerted effort has been made to provide significant supportive structure for the applicant were he to be released on a parole order through the auspices of NGO community supports. Input to be provided by non-Government organisation's (NGO) include caseworker support daily to assist planning activities and meeting needs, initial staff sleepover nightly, assistance in budgeting, shopping, running a household, engaging in prosocial activities, emotion management, further education, attendance at appointments etc. The level of input to be provided is significant and affords the applicant the greatest potential to be able to comply with and rehabilitate under parole order supervision in the community.
Whilst serving his custodial sentence the applicant has achieved a minimum classification and is described as having worked hard on managing his behaviour and showing progress in areas that he would normally respond negatively in. His custodial record certainly reflects growth in maturity and expanded prospects for rehabilitation and reform.
This positive change has also been recognised by the Apsley Program facilitators and reflected in their expert report. Specifically they have noted positive change and reduction of dynamic risk factors.
A pre-parole assessment was undertaken of the applicant and he was identified as suitable for release. It was specifically noted that he has a number of service providers able to provide him with a comprehensive and coordinated support upon his release to assist him to reintegrate into the community and to pursue his rehabilitation. Those support providers include NGO and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
It is important that the applicant maintain his contact with those services upon any release into the community.
Victim impact statements provided at the time of trial by the victim’s former partner and mother have been considered. The extent of their loss is beyond comprehension.
The applicant is young and by reason of that youth there remains prospect for his reform. Certainly during the custodial term there have been indications of improved insight, attitude and motivation toward compliance and prosocial behaviour. This move would be supported the provision of a parole order. Under a parole order the applicant has the opportunity for significant input from a number of agencies to assist in his reintegration into the community.
On balancing all matters parole is approved.
The Board’s determination:
Parole is approved.
Special conditions applied:
Subject to the usual conditions of a parole order, including not to associate with certain named persons.
Paroled from 6 August 2019 - 21 January 2021