Convicted murder John Frederick Ericson’s court bid to hurry along the steps towards his release from prison has been rejected by a High Court judge.
Justice Rachel Dunningham’s decision on the case has been released, only a day after Ericson represented himself to put his case to the court by video-link from prison.
He had wanted a writ to force the Corrections Department to give him one-on-one counselling while he continues to serve time in Rolleston Prison, 16 years after he admitted the murder of his wife.
Ericson believes that other programmes are inappropriate and he needs the psychological counselling. However, he believes that he is assessed as being such a low risk that he is a low priority to receive the sessions he needs to convince the Parole Board that he is safe for release. He told Justice Dunningham on Tuesday that he was “going around in circles” and would be in the same position two years from now.
But Justice Dunningham said that she had to accept the department’s evidence that Ericson was now on the waiting list and it was likely that he would receive his treatment later this year.
She could perceive no unlawfulness in the way the department had carried out its statutory duty to provide rehabilitation.
Programmes had been offered to Ericson. Some had not gone ahead because he, in consultation with the department, had decided they were not appropriate. “He is receiving such treatment as has been considered appropriate in accordance with conventional processes as to prioritisation of those resources.”
She also ruled that his detention was not “arbitrary” – as he had claimed – but was in accordance with a life sentence imposed by a sentencing judge. The department had provided him with the rehabilitative programmes that were available.
He had not shown that any decision or action of the department lay outside its powers or was unlawful or unreasonable. His application failed, she said.
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.