High Court challenge over Blenheim murder parole

High Court-panoply1A man who murdered his wife in Blenheim 15 years ago remains “mystified” about the circumstances of the killing, the High Court has been told during a judicial review application.

John Frederick Ericson is seeking the review of the Parole Board’s decision not to release him from prison where he is serving a life sentence.

His application came before Justice Rachel Dunningham in the High Court at Christchurch today. It is the latest in a series of challenges to his continued imprisonment.

Counsel Michael Starling said Ericson had never denied the offending – killing his wife Sandra in 1999 by striking her in the back of the head with a tomahawk 22 times while she slept.

Ericson has raised a question about medication he was on at the time.

Mr Starling said: “I have picked up from Mr Ericson over the last year that he is almost as mystified as anyone about what happened in terms of the circumstances of it. He doesn’t quite know himself. That’s in relation to the medication issue.”

He said the Parole Board had given him a good hearing and his reoffending risk was seen as low, but it had declined him parole so that he could do a programme. As a low risk offender he would receive no benefit from it.

Justice Dunningham questioned how such serious offending could now be dealt with by the board or the courts when it was not known what factors had triggered it at the time, and whether those triggers or personal dynamics were now behind him.

The hearing was told that Ericson was kept in Hillmorton Hospital for four months after the killing. He had a variety of reports prepared, for a psychological defence – effectively insanity. When the reports did not support that defence, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole term of 10 years.

In recent years he has raised the question of whether he was given the wrong medication by a pharmacist and what happened to the medication after he was arrested. He says it went missing when the house was burgled that night.

Justice Dunningham reserved her decision.



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