Anthony Elgin Ruddell
A sex offender who threatened to "burn down" his victims if they sent him to jail is about to be paroled to a home 10 minutes' drive from where they live. The man was sentenced in 2002 to five years' imprisonment on a number of charges, including unlawful sexual connection and committing an indecent act on a girl under 12.
In December, the stepmother of the victim travelled to Christchurch - where the man was jailed - to tell the Parole Board she did not want him released. If he was to be paroled, she asked for it to be anywhere but Auckland, where she and the victim's family live. On Friday last week, the board told her he had been granted parole and would be living in Christchurch.
This week, the board contacted her again. "They apologised profusely, they made a mistake, he is being paroled to an address five to 10 minutes from all of his victims." He is due to be released on Monday. The woman was shocked, given what she had told the board.
"He threatened myself and other victims [before his arrest], saying if he was ever to go to jail again he would track us down and burn us down. I told the Parole Board and they let him come back here. It's unreal."
The woman believes the man is being paroled to live at an address with a relative who has previous convictions for sexual offending. In its decision, the board said it had concerns about where the man was going to live but that the relative's difficulties were in the past. It did not say what those difficulties were. The board said there was a good separation between the parole address and where the victim's family lived.
The stepmother of the victim said that distance was only 8km. The board, after taking into account the victims' views and the principles of the Parole Act, said it felt that the man no longer presented an undue risk to the public. He will be released on special conditions, including instructions not to have contact with children under 16 and not to contact his victims.
"If you so much as contact them in any way, you will be back here," the board warned him. "My advice to you is that you keep very quiet, keep your head down and take each step at a time with thought." The stepmother said the assurances were not good enough. She is now trying to find somewhere else for her family to live.
Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said he was concerned the board had not listened closely enough to concerns about the man living in Auckland. He said that in the past three months more victims had been calling the trust saying they were unhappy with Parole Board decisions. In its decision, the board said the safety of the public was paramount but prisoners were not to be retained any longer than necessary. In this case, the man had completed a sexual offenders course and was deemed to be at low risk of reoffending.
A board spokesman said support in the community was an important consideration when deciding on release. The address approved for a paroled offender was likely to be one that offered as much support as possible in returning safely to the community. Prisoners work with the Probation Service to come up with a place to live. The address should ideally be with a support person who can help them abide by their parole conditions. The Probation Service looks at whether the address is suitable and passes its findings to the Parole Board, which makes the final decision.
National law and order spokesman Simon Power expressed surprise the board had not listened to the family.
Several, including unlawful sexual connection and an indecent act on a girl under the age of 12.
Parole conditions include:
* Not to have contact with children under the age of 16 years, directly or indirectly, except under supervision of adult approved by probation officer.
* Not to make contact with victims, without officer's written approval
Date of Birth
Indecent assault and violation of a girl under the age of 12
Also several other related charges
Also has threatened the victim's families
At large in Auckland
Sentenced to five years in 2002
Paroled as of March 2006
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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