Man who murdered teen and her baby released on parole

Anna Leask, NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Monday, 17 December 2018, 7:46PM
The man has a 'medium-high' risk of reoffending. (Photo / Getty)
The man has a 'medium-high' risk of reoffending. (Photo / Getty)

A man who raped and murdered a teenager before setting her home on fire and killing her infant son will soon be released on parole - despite remaining a "medium-high" risk of reoffending.

But he will be closely monitored and subject to special conditions for five years after his release. 

Edward Albert McElroy was jailed for life after he strangled, raped and struck 19-year-old Taranaki woman Fresha Wharepapa in the head with an axe.

As he left the grisly scene, he set her Inglewood house on fire, killing her 3-month-old son Nikau Sonny Popo who was sleeping as his mother's life was taken.

A coroner would later rule that little Nikau died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning - from the smoke and gases caused by the fire.

McElroy was convicted of murder, manslaughter, arson and rape.

He appeared before the Parole Board in May and was refused release from prison after an "intel report" containing information about some of his telephone conversations was presented.

In those conversations he made comments suggesting an anti-authoritarian view and a fixation with alcohol.

The board saw the killer again on November 21 and authorised his release from prison. 
Board chairman Sir Ron Young led the panel of members.

He said that at McElroy's previous hearing the board noted that the offender was "well on the way to reintegration".

"He had completed all the rehabilitation programmes required of him," Sir Ron said.

"It had been a slow process but that was appropriate given the seriousness of his offending. However, the process towards release had become somewhat derailed because information came to light of concern relating to Mr McElroy's attitude to parole as well as to the Department of Corrections.

"As a result, a further delay of six months was decided upon with a further updated psychological report."

Sir Ron said that psychological report confirmed that McElroy "remains a medium-high risk of sexual offending in the future as well as a medium risk of violent offending".

"There was a concern expressed about whether his support people truly understood the high-risk situations that might arise and whether they could provide real support for him," he explained in the decision.

"It noted that Mr McElroy would need significant psychological support if and when he was released."

Sir Ron said McElroy had done "extremely well" on the prison release to work programme.

He had a number of successful guided releases, had suitable accommodation, wide support of family and friends and probable employment within the community.

"In the circumstances we have decided, given the above factors and given the conditions we intend to propose, that Mr McElroy is no longer an undue risk," Sir Ron said.

However before McElroy was released a whānau hui must be held so all those supporting him, including his probation officer could "meet and understand" his safety plan as well as his plans for the future.

"We intend to impose the conditions proposed by the probation officer but with some additional factors," Sir Ron said.

"The first relates to relationships.

"Given Mr McElroy's murder arose from a relationship difficulty we think it would be appropriately protective if Mr McElroy was required to notify Community Corrections should he begin any intimate relationship."

McElroy is also banned from using drugs or alcohol and will have a 10pm-6am curfew for the first six months of his release.

At the six-month point, McElroy must appear before the board again for a monitoring hearing.

McElroy will be released from prison in February and seen by the board again in August.

He will be subject to a number of special conditions that will remain in place for five years from the date of his release.

The special conditions are:

  • To attend an alcohol and drug assessment, and attend, participate in and complete any treatment or counselling directed by a probation officer.
  • To reside at an approved address and not move from that address unless he has prior written approval of a probation officer.
  • To comply with the requirements of electronic monitoring and adhere to the curfew for the first six months of his release.
  • To obtain the written approval of a probation officer before starting or changing his position and/or place of employment (including voluntary and unpaid work); and to notify a probation officer if he leaves his position of employment.
  • McElroy must not possess, use, or consume alcohol, controlled drugs or psychoactive substances except controlled drugs prescribed for you by a health professional.
  • He is not to have contact or otherwise associate with the families of the victim(s) of his offending, directly or indirectly, unless you have the prior written consent of his probation officer.
  • He must disclose to a probation officer, at the earliest opportunity, details of any intimate relationship which commences, resumes or terminates.
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