It's thought to be the briefest prison release in New Zealand history: a dangerous criminal was arrested only three hours after he walked free from jail.
Maximum security prisoner George Whichman, 23, who has affiliations with the Killer Beez gang, was Tasered by police after he breached his release conditions in South Auckland about 12.30pm last Wednesday.
Only three hours earlier he had been freed from Auckland Prison. He was fitted with a GPS bracelet to monitor his movements and ensure public safety.
He was tracked by Corrections Department staff, who called police when he travelled south of a defined boundary. He was arrested at a home in Manurewa.
Whichman faced four charges of breaching his release conditions when he appeared in Waitakere District Court after the incident. He was remanded in custody to appear again next week, when it is expected he will apply for bail.
We first heard about this lovely chap when we had the car radio on yesterday. Michael Laws was lambasting the Parole Board and the Government for releasing Whichman. But as the Stuff story notes, Laws had it wrong; the Parole Board was powerless to stop his release; read on:
Parole Board decisions given to The Dominion Post label Whichman an "angry young man" and an "extremely high risk" to society.
He had spent time in 23-hour cell confinement because of serious misbehaviour and was handcuffed during a November parole hearing because prison staff were "anxious about his state of mind and his unpredictability".
The board did not want to free him, but had to because he had served his sentence. The board is required by law to impose release conditions for at least six months on all freed prisoners.
"We are fearful that he will act angrily in the community because he already has some 11 convictions for violent offences," the board said. "We just hope that some unsuspecting member of the public does not fall victim to his further violence."
At the time of his release, Whichman had served a sentence of four years and three months for offences including receiving stolen goods, burglary, aggravated assault, and possession of cannabis for supply.
During his time in jail, he assaulted a prison guard because he was smiling while a psychologist was trying to address emotional issues.
In his cell, Corrections staff found a broom handle with a nail stuck in one end, hidden between two mattresses.
Whichman said the broom had been broken while he was cleaning and he chose to keep a piece for carving, the Parole Board decision said. He also lit a fire on the landing outside his cell while drunk. A bottle of whisky was found in his desk drawer.
The decision said Whichman was concerned about being monitored by GPS because "he was not going to be able to carry out any sort of private life without snooping by the department".
Whichman has only himself to blame for his latest predicament. It's easy to blame the Parole Board, but they are between a rock and a hard place when a prisoner's finite sentence expires.
Here's hoping that Whichman's bail application will fail, and that he will stay inside until the parole breach charges have been decided. The community will be a safer place with him off the streets.
And a word of thanks to former Act MP David Garrett for his Three Strikes legislation. George Whichman is exactly the type of offender that the legislation was designed to apply to. His short-lived period on parole suggests that Whichman will offend again and again, until he runs out of chances.