NZ a little bit safer this week

January 11th, 2010 at 12:05 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

One of New Zealand’s most notorious killers has died in prison, bringing relief to those who knew his victims.

Double murderer Rufus Junior Marsh, 53, died in Wanganui Prison last week, the Department said yesterday. The cause of death is unknown but is not thought to be suspicious.

A career criminal, Marsh was serving a life sentence for killing Justice Department clerk Diane Miller in 1986.

It was his second killing – 12 years earlier, Marsh, then 18, and 16-year-old accomplice Dennis Luke kicked Joseph “Taffy” Williamson to death in Hopper St, Wellington.

We have very few double killers. Marsh, if he was ever let out, would have been highly likely to offend again.

The families of his victims can npow relax and not have to go through the annual submission to the Board asking for him to be kept locked up.

Mind you in this case, it looks like the Parole Board saw no release for him:

At a hearing in 2008, the board said he was unlikely to be freed until he was too old to pose a risk.

“It may be a more humane and realistic outcome to allow Mr Marsh to accept that he is very unlikely to be ready for release until he has been made frail with age.”

I wonder how many people are in this category – basically have had an indication they will never get parole while they are able bodied?

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28 Responses to “NZ a little bit safer this week”

  1. dime (9,972 comments) says:

    Its good to know there are some people we keep inside past the minimum.

    good ole g burton will be lucky to get out.

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  2. kiwitoffee (383 comments) says:

    This man’s death does not make the NZ public any safer. He was locked up, as he should have been.

    It might mean the prison is a bit safer though.

    [DPF: People escape from prison]

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  3. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    That is what I call good news.

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  4. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    the PC among us will say .. RIP, I say GFJ
    that should save us about $70,000 a year and many people will sleep easier now his exit from prison will be in a box.

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  5. big bruv (13,904 comments) says:

    This is the best news of 2010 so far, one can only hope that the rest of the year brings us similar news about William Bell and Graham Burton.

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  6. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    Doesn’t it make sense to make the mandatory sentence for murder Preventative detention with a minimum parole eligibility set by the judge. This would allow a parole board to determine when a murderer is rehabilitated and not at risk of re-offending, and a judge allowance to still decide the scale of the murder. Also, it will allow people to be locked up for the slightest breach of parole. In fact, wouldn’t it make sense to give much longer prison sentences to all criminals with minimum parole eligibility set by the judge. For instance, I read of many people who are constantly doing petty crimes, wouldn’t it make sense to lock these people up indefinitely untill they are not likely to reoffend (ie, rehabilitated?).

    If anyone can see any flaw with my suggestions please say so!

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  7. Dirty Rat (504 comments) says:

    Big Bruv

    Graham Burton attacks gang members in jail.

    Why do you want him dead ?

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  8. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Indeed Dirty Rat – that $20,000 titanium leg that you and I bought him hasn’t slowed him down one iota.

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  9. mikeysmokes (172 comments) says:

    Whys it safer, wasnt he already incarcerated?

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  10. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    CharlieBrown – This is effectively what happens for murder. The virtually mandatory sentence is life imprisonment (the only acknowledged exception is a suicide pact that goes wrong) and the judge is virtually obliged to set a 10 or 17 year minimum depending on circumstances. A judge has to explain any reasons for something other than life imprisonment or less than a 10/17 year minimum and such cases are extremely rare.

    Life imprisonment goes further then preventative detention, the sentence hangs over the offender’s head until his or her death (law change or Royal Pardon excepted) – he or she is on parole for life and liable for recall for breach of parole or reoffending.

    What would make sense would be for a Parole Board to be able to set a time before its next hearing of the prisoner’s case, say up to 5 years. This means victims need only worry about a 5 yearly appearance instead of an annual appearance.

    Your ‘secong leg’ is effectively a ‘three strikes’ type policy that has been discredited in civilized administrations (yes, IMO NT and WA are not civilized in this regard). Judges are expected to take account of an accused’s record when sentencing and have regard for the preventative and incapacitation aspects for multiple offenders. It is laid out in the Sentencing Act.

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  11. 3-coil (1,220 comments) says:

    Marsh may be gone finally, but the trail of destruction he has left in his wake remains immense.

    The lives he took, the families and relationships he destroyed, the career of Diane Miller (who was a trained social worker, devoting her life to helping those less fortunate) – all obliterated at the whim of a piece of scum who never contributed a single positive thing to society. Marsh was not satisfied to just “take” from society though, he got a thrill from the destruction and mayhem he caused. He will deservedly remain one of the strongest arguments for pro-death penalty advocates in NZ.

    NZ is a far better place without him – tonight I will celebrate and toast the demise of Rufus Junior Marsh.

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  12. jaba (2,142 comments) says:

    3-coil .. I may also partake in a glass or two. Hope Philu doesn’t read this .. he hates alcohol, prefers the real stuff.

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  13. wreck1080 (3,917 comments) says:

    I don’t quite get it.

    A life sentence is actually a sentence of around 15 years right?

    Surely they could once he had served his time he would have been released regardless of what anyone wanted?

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  14. starboard (2,537 comments) says:

    marsh will be meeting his maker downstairs about now…burn you bastard.

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  15. NOt1tocommentoften (433 comments) says:

    Wreck – life means “life” in the sense that the offender is subject to be recalled to prison at any time of his or her life after release.

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  16. scanner (340 comments) says:

    Shame we can’t get a few more to follow Rufus, at least now we get value for money from the justice system.

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  17. si_rangi (60 comments) says:

    Rather ironic is that Dennis Luke also mentioned in the article is a convicted double murderer.

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  18. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    peterwn – “Your ’secong leg’ is effectively a ‘three strikes’ type policy that has been discredited in civilized administrations (yes, IMO NT and WA are not civilized in this regard). Judges are expected to take account of an accused’s record when sentencing and have regard for the preventative and incapacitation aspects for multiple offenders. It is laid out in the Sentencing Act.”

    I don’t see the similarity to 3 strikes. If someone is guilty of a huge number of minor crimes, and doesn’t show any indication to changing their ways, then not letting them out of prison till that inidcation changes seems justified. Likewise, once let out they are free to live a normal life, providing they don’t commit any crimes, otherwise back to prison till they satisfy the parole board again. This sentence isn’t a life imprisonment sentence, it is a life without crime sentence.

    Whereas 3 strikes would allow someone to be locked up for life after being found guilty of 3 crimes, a sentence as I suggested would not put any barriers up for rehabilitation and freedom other than showing real signs of changing

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  19. Inventory2 (10,342 comments) says:

    Indeed si_rangi – didn’t he mastermind the gang shooting of Chris Crean in New Plymouth?

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  20. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    peterwn – Thanks for clarifying the life imprisonment sentence. I never realised it could actually be a life sentence.

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  21. Jman (84 comments) says:

    It’s an interesting question – do parole boards consider how “able-bodied” a person is as a mitigating factor as to whether they get let out or not. If so, then it may be in the prisoners interest to be less able-bodied in order to get out of prison sooner. In that case it may be in the prisoners interest to give them the option to be voluntarily crippled or castrated in exchange for a shorter prison term.

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  22. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    I think “able-bodied” is considered when assessing whether a prisoner is likely to re-offend.

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  23. si_rangi (60 comments) says:

    IV2 – yes he did

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  24. peterwn (3,273 comments) says:

    To answer questions as to whether life is ‘life’.

    Repeating from DomPost:

    At a hearing in 2008, the board said he was unlikely to be freed until he was too old to pose a risk.

    “It may be a more humane and realistic outcome to allow Mr Marsh to accept that he is very unlikely to be ready for release until he has been made frail with age.”

    Another very long standing policy kicks in – the undesirability of a prisoner dying in jail, it is considered quite appropriate in civilized societies to release on humanitarian grounds a prisoner known to be dying, could be very old age. Hence the Parole Board’s policy.

    It is interesting that Alan Turing (the ‘father’ of computer logic) was given the option of chemical castration after being accused of the homosexual behaviour (under that nasty little piece of law that used to be in UK and NZ which made it very easy to clobber alleged homosexuals) but chose total crippling ie his life.

    Chemical castration may not necessarily work, the man may still be disposed to commit sexual crimes.

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  25. David Garrett (7,289 comments) says:

    DPF, you are incorrect to claim that we have “very few” repeat killers – unless you consider 10 or 12 of them to be very few. These are people (all men) who have killed, served a sentence for either murder or manslaughter, then come out and killed again. The SST did a piece on these killers about the middle of last year.

    Not all of them are repeat murderers, but the victims are just as dead if the killer is found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder. As anyone with legal training or knowledge of the legal system knows, the difference between a manslaughter and murder verdict is often a good lawyer – particularly those case on the borderline between the two.

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  26. fortunateson (7 comments) says:

    What most NZers don’t realise is that we have so many more dangerous guys than this currently on the outside!! And with the influence of methamphetamine on them they are boilers ready to blow – gotta love the gangs like the Hells Angels and the Headhunters, they keep criminals pumped and ready to destroy the very fabric of society decent Kiwis value and work hard for.

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  27. Pharmachick (235 comments) says:

    Rather unusually,

    **I couldn’t agree more with Big Bruv (12:30, 11/01/2010)**, if Bell and Burton pop off the mortal coil this year I will have a glass of 20 yr + scotch in celebration for each.

    Insofar as a wider conversation might merit a comment … I think DPF’s relay of the parole board’s assessment is the first parole board decision in the last 5 years I’ve not been actively outraged about. Well done parole board… try to keep it up okay!?

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  28. littlechicken (1 comment) says:

    Technically Marsh is not a double murderer… Although he is responsible for taking two lives – his first conviction (for an offence resulting in death) was for manslaughter not murder. NZ still only has two double murderers – Dennis Luke and Graeme Burton.

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