Lawyers for a mentally ill man have tried to convince the Court of Appeal the law could be read in a way for him to avoid a seven-year jail term for kissing a stranger’s cheek.
Daniel Clinton Fitzgerald, 46, was convicted of a third strike offence of indecent assault for kissing the woman on Wellington’s Cuba St in December 2016. He also pushed her friend who tried to intervene.
Fitzgerald has been in custody since the night of the offence and serious mental health problems have seen him go from prison to hospital and back again.
The High Court judge decided Fitzgerald had to be sentenced to the maximum for indecent assault, seven years in jail, because it was his “third strike”, but he said it was manifestly unjust for Fitzgerald to serve the sentence without the possibility of parole.
So the law worked – he was eligible for parole after two years four months for his third strike.
But Fitzgerald was declined parole in April and is not scheduled to go before the Parole Board again until June 2020. The board expected him to receive one-on-one counselling before he gets treatment to stop his sexual offending.
This is key. If the Parole Board is not releasing him they are convinced he will keep on with his sexual offending. So three strikes means the public is protected.
He has sexually assaulted women on multiple occasions. The SST estimated there have been dozens of convictions over thirty years.
He obviously needs treatment. He hasn’t gained it outside prison. Hopefully he will get it in prison.