The sad timeline of failure

All murders are tragic, but the killing of Karl Kuchenbecker was so preventable, the timeline of how Mark Graeme Burton was allowed to kill him makes very sad reading:

2006 February 12
Prisoner found in “badly beaten state” in Unit 4 at Rimutaka Prison – would not say who had done it.

February 20
Another prisoner asked to be moved from Unit 4, saying he was sick of being assaulted by the same person, but would not say who.

March 4
Unit 4 prisoner receives broken arm and ribs, pleads to be moved to another unit, but will not say who assaulted him.

Intelligence gathered that in all three cases, the offender was convicted murderer Graeme Burton, 36. Further intelligence alleges Burton was soliciting other prisoners to do “hits” on two staff. Burton moved from low security Unit 4 into high medium Unit 3.

Burton reported to be using a mobile phone.

Inmate asked to be put into segregation, saying he feared for his safety after multiple assaults from Burton.

June 28
Parole Board hearing for Burton. Only indirect references to above information given to board.

July 10
Burton is released on parole having served 14 years of a life sentence for murder.

Burton begins breaching his parole conditions.

Through informants, police hear that Burton and an associate have committed a series of armed assaults on Wellington drug dealers.

November 27
Probation tells police they will take steps to have Burton recalled to prison at the first sign of any charges being laid.

November 28
Police launch a formal investigation into Burton’s activities.

November 30
Probation asks police if they will put the information they already have in an affidavit, to support an application to recall Burton to prison. Police refuse, because of a concern informants could be identified.

December 7
Police hear Burton is moving out of his specified Wellington flat – a clear breach of parole. Police do not step up their hunt despite being able to arrest offenders if they believe their parole has been breached.

December 12
Burton fails to show up to a parole meeting for the second time in a week. But his probation officer was away for a week, meaning no one was notified.

December 19
Probation notifies the courts and police of Burton’s parole breach.

December 22
The Wellington District Court issues an arrest warrant. A phone message from Probation to police notifying them of the warrant is missed. The warrant is not properly actioned until January 4.

December 29
Parole Board convener issues a second arrest warrant, faxed to Wellington central police station, but not actioned properly until January 1.

2007 January 1-6
Police carry out urgent manhunt for Burton.

January 6
Burton shoots Karl Kuchenbecker dead in the hills above Wainuiomata.

At least his death is leading to some changes in the parole system, but they do not go far enough.

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