Close monitoring for offender sent back from Australia

A judge has taken a grip on the life of an offender deported from Australia with a manslaughter conviction, and will keep a close watch on him for a year.

Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish said that Ross Dylen Hunt, 30, kept breaching the Returning Offenders legislation by drinking because he was “lonely and despondent”.

He faced sentencing today for his fourth breach of the order since being sent back to New Zealand in May 2017.

Defence counsel Jessica Bibby said: “The majority of his family are back in Australia, including his two children, and he has found the transition incredibly difficult.” He now had some support, and an address where he could live.

Judge Farish described his treatment in New Zealand as “crazy”, because his rehabilitation needs were not being met.

Rehabilitation was put on hold whenever Hunt was taken into custody and he had not had an assessment by a departmental psychologist nor an alcohol and drug assessment.

She ruled out imprisonment immediately, though Hunt had been remanded in custody by another judge in March when he admitted charges of breaching the order by consuming alcohol, wilful damage, being unlawfully in a yard, breaching prison release conditions, and failing to attend court while on bail.

She said a jail sentence would mean he would eventually be released, and then his release conditions would expire, and nothing would have been done. She preferred an intensive supervision sentence.

Hunt was released from prison in Christchurch in January into emergency accommodation at a motel but refused to attend the doctor and WINZ appointments arranged for him, and within days he had disappeared to Wellington.

In the early hours of January 14, he was at a Wellington house that was unoccupied and being renovated.

He entered a room at the back and left his trousers and underwear inside. He then went onto a decking and smashed two windows to get into a bedroom, causing cuts to his hand and leg.

He was bashing on the front door when the police arrived. He was showing signs of recent drug use, and he tested positive for alcohol.

In 2011, Hunt was convicted by a jury of the manslaughter of a Caboolture father, Allan John Wort, 42, who was killed in a fight in northern Brisbane. Hunt had been acquitted in an earlier trial of the murder of Mr Wort, but the jury had been unable to agree on a manslaughter verdict.

He was found guilty at the second trial of being party to a common cause to inflict the fatal injury.

The charges arose from an incident in 2008 when two groups argued and fought at the Centenary Lakes parkland. Mr Wort was kicked and punched as he lay on the ground and he was then dumped face down in the lake. Hunt was jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Judge Farish today placed Hunt on intensive supervision for a year while she monitors his progress with monthly reports. She ordered that he been seen by a department psychologist and have an alcohol and drug assessment, and undertake treatment or counselling as directed. She also ordered him to pay $749 reparation for the windows he broke.

She gave him this chance, but also warned him that if he did not abide by the sentence, she would resentence him to a jail term.

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