After 20 years behind bars, the man who brutally murdered Mangakino policeman Murray Stretch will be released on parole.
Carlos Namana was 19 when he killed Constable Stretch on the old hospital grounds in the small Waikato town in 1999.
His release has been welcomed by a number of Murray Stretch's family.
"I'm delighted that he now has the opportunity to re-join the community and live the rest of his life in an exemplary fashion", says Winsome Stretch, Mr Stretch's sister.
"Carlos knows what he has to do to live the sort of life that I think he wants to and I truly believe he will be a fantastic citizen," Ms Stretch says.
Namana was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum non-parole period of 16 years.
He has been refused parole up until now.
The Parole Board decision released today notes a recent psychological report assessing Namana as "medium to high risk of violent re-offending" and a "high risk of general re-offending". But after considering his behaviour and development in prison over the past 10 years, his robust release plan and long-standing support network, the board "is satisfied Mr Namana no longer poses an undue risk".
The board pointed out how he has obtained a number of unit standard qualifications while in prison in carpentry, horticulture, furniture making and engineering.
He has been on a release to work programme for the past year and has a number of job offers when he is released.
His release comes with a number of conditions including:
- No drugs or alcohol
- Not to enter Mangakino, South Waikato and the Tokoroa regions
- A curfew
- Electronic Monitoring
Namana will have a face to face monitoring hearing in four months to discuss his progress.
Namana undertook a Restorative Justice conference with Stretch family members some years ago which laid the platform for future prison visits.
Winsome Stretch says she decided soon after her brother's death to forgive Namana, saying, "Often people in the news who've suffered terrible tragedies and they're angry and bitter."
She didn't want that, "so I decided the way to do that was to forgive him".
Ms Stretch says she's an atheist so it wasn't a Christian act but a selfish act so she could go on to live a happy life.
She says she now considers Carlos Namana as a friend and would welcome him to her home for a cup of tea.
Namana will be released from prison next month.