New Zealand’s longest serving inmate has spent more time behind bars than infamous Nazi Rudolf Hess.
Now 77-year-old Alfred Vincent’s case is heading to the United Nations amid claims he has been wrongly jailed for 40 of the past 47 years.
Auckland-based human rights lawyer Tony Ellis wrote to Vincent last week with news he planned to lodge his case to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention by September.
He said Vincent had spent a disproportionally long stretch behind bars in Canterbury prisons for seven convictions in September 1968 of indecent assault on five boys aged 12 to 14 – offending that carried a maximum jail sentence of seven years.
At the time, he was sentenced to preventive detention because of six previous convictions for indecencies with boys, which saw him jailed for several years in the mid-1960s.
Well he wasn’t sentenced to seven years. He was sentenced to preventive detention. That’s basically a life sentence.
And note that he has been convicted 13 times of sexual assault on young boys. That to me seems to indicate that preventive detention was the appropriate sentence – there was little indication he would stop if not locked up.
“I think it is appalling in a civil society such as ours that you can lock someone up for 47 years when the finite sentence was for seven years. If you do a double murder, you don’t stay in for half that long. It’s absurd,” Ellis said.
I think it is appalling he molested 13 boys before the community was made safe from him.
A psychologist planned to reassess Vincent this monthfor Ellis’ case, and an Auckland University law student was helping Ellis to wade through about 2000 pages that the Department of Corrections had released on Vincent.
Vincent was due to appear in front of the Parole Board in late August, three years after his last appearance, when the board imposed a three-year postponement order.
“I do want to be released from prison,” he said in his parole assessment report in 2012.
“I don’t have sexual thoughts any more. I get locked up at 7pm every night, I keep to myself and I stay in my cell.”
If he is no longer a threat, he should be released. That is how preventive detention works. But I presume there is a reason the Parole Board have not granted him parole. The fact they have scheduled him to appear only every three years indicates he was not seen as a close call.
In 2012, Fairfax contacted all four of his surviving victims from the 1968 preventive detention charges. Three supported his release.
They’re unlikely to now be his targets.
But as I said if he is truly no longer a risk to the community he should of course be released. But the Parole Board needs to judge that off more that his own assertion that he is safe.