ZB

Police dog killer who shot two cops in Christchurch denied parole

Author
George Block, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 1:58pm
Christopher Smith appears in the Christchurch District Court facing 11 charges including killing a police dog, cultivating cannabis, possession of a weapon, two of using a firearm against a police officer, three charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and two counts of attempted murder on July 27, 2010. Photo / Simon Baker
Christopher Smith appears in the Christchurch District Court facing 11 charges including killing a police dog, cultivating cannabis, possession of a weapon, two of using a firearm against a police officer, three charges of possession of an unlicensed firearm and two counts of attempted murder on July 27, 2010. Photo / Simon Baker

Police dog killer who shot two cops in Christchurch denied parole

Author
George Block, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Wed, 3 Aug 2022, 1:58pm

A gun-toting Christchurch cannabis grower who killed a police dog and shot two officers will remain locked up, a parole board has decided.

Christopher Graeme Smith, 46, was convicted and sentenced in 2011 for the attempted murder the previous year of a police dog handler, for wounding a constable and killing police dog Gage.

Gage was posthumously honoured with the UK's highest award for animal bravery for taking a bullet for his handler.

Smith said he initially believed he was confronting intruders to his large-scale cannabis growing operation in Phillipstown, Christchurch.

He shot Senior Constable Bruce Lamb in the face as the dog handler entered his bedroom.

Gage came to the wounded officer's aid but Smith shot and killed him.

Gage was hailed at the time as having saved his handler's life.

Smith then shot Constable Mitchel Alatalo in the leg.

Alatalo escaped out a window and despite his leg wound, armed himself with a Bushmaster rifle and worked with other officers to secure the scene until ordered to go to hospital.

Smith was armed with a number of weapons and it took the Armed Offenders Squad to bring him into custody.

He was convicted of the attempted murder of Lamb, and injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm to Alatalo. He received 16 months for shooting Gage.

Smith was also convicted of cultivating cannabis, using a firearm against a police officer and the unlawful possession of a .22 calibre Stirling rifle, a Mauser rifle and a .22 rifle with a silencer and telescopic sight.

His total sentence was 14 years in prison with a minimum non-parole period of seven years.

He made his ninth appearance before the parole board at Rolleston Prison in early June, according to a decision from panel convener Mary More recently released to the Herald.

Smith sought via his lawyer Rahul George to be released from prison.

George proposed a slew of release conditions, including full 24-hour residential restrictions, weekly meetings with police and a "stepped reintegration" to society.

He also said Smith would consent to any other conditions suggested.

More said Smith spoke well to the board about his time in a rehabilitative programme and his progress with anger management.

"He gave examples that demonstrated he is taking on board what he has learned and has insight into his own anger."

But while Smith is now in the reintegrative phase of his sentence, his lawyer's release proposal was not enough to address his risk.

A key issue was the fact the entirety of Canterbury was a Victim Notification Register exclusion zone.

As a result, he had been unable to undertake any guided reintegration into the community, whose name is withheld, where his lawyer proposed for him to be released.

"We canvassed a number of proposals with Mr Smith, including transferring to a prison outside the Canterbury region so he could undertake some community-based reintegration," More's decision said.

"He said he is not interested in moving."

He will next come before the board in October.