Ross Dylen Hunt was a man alone when he landed back in New Zealand last May after years in prison in Australia for manslaughter, says the Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society.
PARS Canterbury manager Helen Murphy understands why things went wrong for the 30-year-old.
She believes that he had spent so long in prison that he was lacking social skills and he was also sent to New Zealand lacking any family support.
She said Hunt’s Samoan family was living in Australia and is still there while he faced deportation after serving his sentence for a 2008 manslaughter in northern Brisbane.
“Normally, he probably would have gone back straight home to his mum and family and they would have put a few restraints in place. In fact, he arrived back here with nobody.”
Hunt was deported under the Australian policy for overseas offenders, but he had not lived in New Zealand for a long time and he had no family there at all. His children were also left behind in Australia and according to Christchurch District Court Judge Jane Farish that all left him feeling “lonely and despondent”.
PARS met him when he arrived. “We were there to help him and he did have the support there,” said Murphy. “However, he’s probably been one of the ones who has struggled the most.”
There were repeated breaches of the restrictions placed on him in New Zealand under the Returning Offenders legislation, and that led to prison.
When he was released again in January in Christchurch, he was to go 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 where he was picked up after drunken incident at an unoccupied house within a few days.
He was bashing on the house’s 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.
Murphy said she wanted people to get “the bigger picture”. After being released from years in prison, he had been dropped off in a strange land without all the supports that would normally be present.
Now Judge Farish has taken an interest in the case, releasing Hunt on intensive supervision and judicially monitoring him with regular supports for the next year. On Tuesday, she ordered that he been seen by a department psychologist, have an alcohol and drug assessment, and undertake treatment or counselling as directed during the year of supervision.
He had admitted another breach of the returning offenders order by consuming alcohol, wilful damage, being unlawfully in a yard, breaching prison release conditions, and failing to attend court while on bail.
Murphy said that PARS did everything in its power to see that people were supported. “But if they choose not to engage or co-operate, that is their choice,” she said. Hunt had “done a runner from Christchurch.”