Convicted murderer pushing for counselling in jail

High Court-panoply1A man convicted of murdering his wife 15 years ago has taken a case to the High Court to try to force the Corrections Department to give him the counselling that may lead to his release on parole.

John Frederick Ericson appeared by video-link from Christchurch Men’s Prison, at a sitting before Justice Rachel Dunningham, seeking an order against the chief executive of the Department of Corrections.

He is asking for home leave, day paroles, and counselling.

Justice Dunningham reserved her decision after the 30-minute hearing at which Ericson spoke for himself.

He said he wanted one-on-one counselling to be arranged so that he could satisfy the Parole Board that he was safe for release. However, his risk assessment was so low that he did not believe he would get the counselling in a reasonable time.

“I may be wait-listed for counselling but I will be lucky if I get it this year,” he told the judge. “I know cases in my unit that have been waiting four years for one-on-one counselling and they are a higher risk than I am.”

“I am going round in circles and absolutely nothing is happening,” said Ericson.

He was told at the hearing that he was “programmed for counselling”, subject to availability, resources, and other factors.

Appearing for the department, Kristina Muller said: “Obviously there are some constraints on the ability to provide psychological services. Not everyone can be treated immediately, and there is the need to juggle the types of course for different types of prisoner. One-on-one counselling is intensive and takes more resources than others.”

Ericson was on the waiting list, and could hopefully expect to receive counselling this year, she said.

Ericson replied: “If I knew I was going to be sent to one-on-one counselling I would not be here. The reality is that I am getting nothing.”

Ericson has 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. At an earlier hearing, he raised a question about medication he was on at the time.



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