If high profile convicted murderer John Barlow is let out on parole next year, he would be supported by a loyal wife and community, the Parole Board said in a report.
Barlow is serving a minimum 14-year jail term for the 1994 murders of father and son businessmen Eugene and Gene Thomas in their central Wellington office.
Convicted in a rare third trial, Barlow has maintained his innocence and faced his first Parole Board hearing yesterday still fighting to clear his name.
With the aim of achieving that goal, Barlow’s legal team has managed to secure dates for a Privy Council appeal hearing in February.
“Today he comes to us with a psychological report which assesses him as being at low risk of reoffending,” Parole Board chairman Judge David Carruthers said in the panel’s report released today.
“There are no misconducts and indeed no incidents or charges against him for the whole of the time he has been in prison. He is regarded as being a very compliant prisoner.”
However, the panel also took into account the Thomas family’s written statement urging “in uncompromising terms” not to release him
The panel also sought a second opinion from a senior psychologist on Barlow’s his risk to the community, because it had very little information about his risk generally.
If released, it was proposed for Barlow to live at an unnamed address, and he was likely to be supported financially.
The panel believed that some sort of business occupation awaited Barlow, who described himself as a senior businessman.
“In the meantime he says his time will be taken in working around the house tending to maintenance; and doing the intensive work of preparation for the Privy Council which obviously is going to occupy him for the forthcoming months.”
Barlow’s counsel told the panel that the support his wife had provided for her husband was exceptional.
He was also supported by various support people, whose names were withheld, and by numerous members of the community.
“The media publicity he says is something which he has learned to accept and it does not trouble him nor does it trouble his wife,” Judge Carruthers said.
“She has remained loyal and supportive to a remarkable degree over the whole of the 14 years and indeed prior to that when he went through the court trial process.”
Barlow, who entered prison at 48 years old, had no other convictions, and had no drug or alcohol problems.
“We think he lacks insight into his own personality and behaviour, but that is not relevant to his risk at the present time,” Judge Carruthers said.
“There are no programmes which are available to him because of his continuing denial and indeed nothing in terms of personal intervention has occurred to him in prison.”
Electronic monitoring could be considered because of safety concerns likely to be raised after such a long time in prison.
His application for parole will be adjourned to the March hearings of the board for the further information.
Crown lawyer John Pike told the Dominion Post a Privy Council fixture had been set down for February 25 and 26, but those dates would have to be convenient for Barlow’s counsel before the appeal proceeded.
The Privy Council has agreed to hear only 10 New Zealand appeals in the past 150 years.
His lawyer, Greg King, has said Barlow wanted to leave prison an innocent man — rather than a paroled murderer.