The man behind one of New Zealand’s worst massacres, Raymond Ratima, has been denied parole for the second time in just over a year.
The parole board said it had not yet determined what the risks of releasing the 55-year-old would be and that further rehabilitation was needed.
In 1992, Ratima was convicted of seven murders, attempted murder and the murder of an unborn child.
Three of the victims were his own sons.
He pleaded guilty to the murders, which took place in Masterton, and was sentenced to life in prison.
During the hearing, Ratima told the council that over the past 30 years he had regretted ending innocent lives.
He said he was fully aware of the trauma of his actions on living victims.
Among them were his then-wife and in-laws, whom he also attempted to murder during the killing spree.
“For the past three decades I have lived with the weight of mana loss and shame. I will walk the rest of my life with this whakamā,” Ratima said.
In response, the Chairman of the Parole Board, Sir Ron Young, asked Ratima if he understood why the victims’ family wanted him to remain in prison.
Ratima said he did and had aroha for the victims.
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When asked again if he understood their point of view, Ratima replied that he was asking for parole because the law allowed him to.
Young said Ratima couldn’t hide behind the law.
“Given the threat you made to your wife and stepfather, they remain fearful,” Young said.
Ratima said he would never do anything to hurt them in the future because he had already taken so much from them.
During the hearing, Ratima also denied that his intention was to kill seven members of his family, and the hammer and knife he used were scare tactics.
He said that before the murders he had suffered a nervous breakdown, after being served with a protective order by his then wife.
This had prevented him from seeing his children.
He said he was also homeless and unemployed, and had been rejected by welfare agencies when he asked for help.
When asked about the details of the killing streak, Ratima said he wasn’t sure because he was in an all-empty state of mind.
This was disputed by a parole board member, who interviewed him immediately after the killings and said he had given him a clear version of events.
Ratima was then asked why he killed his own children.
“I can’t give a reason,” Ratima said, “there was a lot of screaming and screaming and it all becomes vague and you wake up and see the carnage you’ve created.”
“I wanted to be with my kids until I died. I was suicidal after that.”
The parole board asked Ratima about his current relationship with a woman for the past six years.
He asked what Ratima would do if the relationship ended, given that the 1992 murders followed a breakdown in his relationship with his then-wife.
He responded by saying that he was offered advice so he could build on his current relationship.
He also acknowledged that relationship breakups are a high-risk situation for him.
But the parole board seemed unconvinced that enough had been done to address that risk in a safety plan if he was released.
In his summary, he said one of the difficulties was that other people had gone through what Ratima had gone through, but didn’t kill their entire family.
He added that Ratima’s psychological reports indicated that he remained a moderate risk and that his offense was unusual.
“That’s what we’re tackling,” said Associate Professor Philip Brinded, a member of the Parole Board, “your case is more difficult than any other.”
Ratima can make her next release offer in 18 months.