Canterbury child-killer recalled to prison after positive methamphetamine test but denies using drug

A child-killer freed on parole last year has been recalled to prison after he tested positive for methamphetamine – an alleged breach of his release conditions.

But he claims the positive drug result is the result of a botched test.

It is the fifth time he has been released and the recalled for alleged bad behaviour.

In 1991, Robin James Pitney murdered Leif Wulff at Caroline Bay in Timaru.

Leif, 11, was walking home on a Friday night after doing some shopping when Pitney – then 15 – attacked him.

He stabbed the boy repeatedly and he died at the scene.

In 1992, Pitney was sentenced to life in prison.

Since he became eligible for parole he has been released five times – and recalled back to prison by the Parole Board on each occasion.

The Parole Board confirmed they made an application to recall Pitney on January 19 and that was granted a week later.

“The grounds for recall are that Mr Pitney poses an undue risk to the safety of the community and has breached his conditions,” said Parole Board panel convenor Kathryn Snook.

“The material we have indicates that on December 29, 2020, Mr Pitney was questioned by staff (at the rehab facility) because they suspected he had been using drugs.

“He denied this … On January 15, 2021, there was a positive test for methamphetamine.”

Snook said Pitney submitted to the board that he had not used the drug and his result was “a false positive in the screening test”.

His lawyer said Pitney had been “advised” – by a person not named in the report -to “accept responsibility for using methamphetamine”.

If he did that, he would re-admitted to the rehabilitation programme “but at a lower level”.

“The alternative was that if he did not accept responsibility he would be discharged from the programme,” he told the board.

The board heard that, in January, Pitney told staff at the facility that he was “actively using methamphetamine”.

He then “absconded from the programme” and said he was self-discharging.

A condition of his parole is that he cannot leave the facility or move address without direct prior approval by his parole officer.

Pitney accepted he would have to stay in prison for some time and his lawyer told the board he would be working to develop an alternative release proposal.

“He has good support in the community. He has a new partner and her parents are in support,” said Snook.

“Mr Pitney acknowledged today that it was the wrong choice to decide to leave the programme,” Snook said.

“It reflected his disillusionment with the programme itself. He also acknowledged that the longest period of time he has spent in the community on parole is around nine months.

“We are making a final recall order today …Mr Pitney poses an undue risk to the safety of the community we must exercise our discretion to make a final recall order.”

Pitney will be seen again by the board in June.

In June 2017, Pitney was recalled for similar behaviour.

“He was previously released there in 2017 but recalled on June 12, 2017, because of a positive test for drugs and he removed his tracker and absconded,” Snook said.

“Prior to that there were three earlier recalls following releases on parole in 2003, 2004 and 2016.”

Pitney, now 44,was last released in May last year.

He had been granted parole in March but due to the initial Covid-19 national lockdown, the rehabilitation facility he was being released to could not take him.

He was freed in May and told the board he was “enthusiastic” about the facility.

The board ordered Pitney to adhere to a number of special conditions including submitting and complyingto electronic monitoring, not to use drugs or alcohol, to disclose all and any details of an intimate relationship to his probation officer and not to contact any of his victims.

He was also ordered to attend a psychological assessment and attend, participate in and complete any recommended treatment as directed by a Probation Officer.


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