Stephen Eldon Burkett
NZ Herald story here
Herald on Sunday article 12th March 2006
A paedophile sentenced to life behind bars after saying he would never stop abusing young boys was freed by the Appeal Court and reoffended within months of his release. Stephen Eldon Burkett, who has been convicted of abusing more than 30 boys throughout New Zealand and Australia, was sentenced to preventative detention in 2000 - a potentially infinite sentence handed down to offenders deemed a menace to society. Burkett is likely to be again sentenced to preventative detention on Friday after this month pleading guilty to stalking and indecent assault charges relating to an incident involving a North Shore boy on a bus last July.
The handling of Burkett's release has been criticised by Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar, who yesterday said he was alarmed at the "ridiculous situation" that led to the original preventative detention sentence being reduced to five years on appeal. At the time, the sentencing judge noted that Burkett was a "predator of young men usually of the ages of 10 to 14" and had in the past offended within weeks of being released from prison. He said Burkett had told probation officers he did not want to change his "sexual deviance" as it broughthim comfort. "There really is little conclusion available to me other than that at some stage when you are in the community you will almost certainly reoffend," the High Court judge said.
But Appeal Court judges overturned that sentence. Burkett had written to the court saying he was sorry and wanted to get treatment. He was not a violent offender, they noted. They imposed a five-year jail term, saying the risk of giving Burkett one last chance and that failing was not "unacceptably serious". However, Corrections staff were worried he would reoffend. They got a special order denying him early parole, keeping him in prison until the last day of his sentence. When he was released last April he was not electronically monitored and the only home he could find was a boarding house next to Grey Lynn Park.
In its report on his release, the Parole Board urged that a senior probation officer be appointed to keep an eye on him, saying he should be arrested the instant he breached release conditions. In July last year, Burkett went missing from the address he was supposed to be living at and it was then that he abused the North Shore boy on a bus. He was arrested only for breaching parole conditions and was out of jail again on November 4. Later that month police arrested him on shoplifting charges and for preparing to commit another crime by stalking a boy at Britomart train station. He was not charged with abusing the North Shore boy until this month.
Date of Birth
1955 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Sentenced to preventive detention in July 2000
This was reduced to just 5 years on appeal
Paroled April 2005, reoffended within months of his release
Committed his latest offence while under
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Freed predator abuses again
Stephen Eldon Burkett Appeal Notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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