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Ratima takes Parole Board to court

Raymond Ratima, a mass murderer who killed seven people during a rampage fuelled by a relationship breakdown, has taken the New Zealand Parole Board to court, raising the possibility of bias after being denied release from prison 14 times.

Ratima, 55, was jailed for life in 1992 after being found guilty of killing seven people, including three of his own children, on a murderous rampage in Masterton.

Ratima appeared via audio-video link in the High Court at Christchurch yesterday, seeking a review of the Parole Board’s decision to not grant him parole.

On June 25, 1992, Ratima killed his three sons Piripi, 7, Barney, 5, and Stacey, 2, in their grandparents’ Masterton home.

He also killed his brother-in-law Philip Ferguson Junior, 14, his heavily-pregnant sister-in-law Nicola Ferguson, 20, her partner Bevan Tepu, 21, and their son Stephen, 3.

Ratima then lay in wait for his wife and her parents to return home, seriously injuring his father-in-law. He was convicted of attempting to murder him.

Ratima was sentenced in 1993 to life imprisonment with a non-parole period of 10 years after pleading guilty to seven counts of murder, attempted murder and killing an unborn child.

Since then, he has been denied parole 14 times.

Ratima’s lawyer Roger Eagles argued that Parole Board member Professor Phillip Brinded’s previous involvement with Ratima, when he prepared psychological reports in 1992, could create bias.

Eagles said Brinded is the only one on the Parole Board panel who had “extensive personal contact” with Ratima when he was preparing psychological reports, stating this could create a “perception of bias” when it came to Ratima’s parole hearing.

Justice Lisa Preston questioned why Ratima, who knew about Brinded’s involvement in the hearing, didn’t make any objection. However, Eagles said it was simply “unfair” to put that responsibility on Ratima as the plaintiff.

Eagles said Ratima had “significant academic problems” due to his educational background and it should be the chairperson’s responsibility to raise such issues.

Eagles further raised the issue of potential bias when it came to Ratima, as he had gone for parole multiple times and not been granted it once.

However, Justice Preston said she was “troubled” by this submission, stating a risk assessment had to be conducted at each hearing before a prisoner could be granted parole.

Eagles said comments made by members of the board implied that Ratima shouldn’t even be applying for parole, as he didn’t appear to fully appreciate the impact on his victims.

Ratima was last denied parole in October 2022.

During another Parole Board hearing in 2021, it emerged he had started a relationship with a “fragile” woman while in prison.

The board had concerns about the woman’s vulnerability, due to her childhood trauma and comments she had made to the probation officer, including the fact that “there are two sides to all issues”.

The pair met in their early teens and had rekindled a relationship when Ratima was on a guided release, and since then, there had been regular visits and phone contact between them.

Despite nearly 100 sessions with a psychologist since 2013, board chair Sir Ron Young said there were still concerns Ratima lacked insight into his crimes.

The board questioned the appropriateness of Ratima’s new relationship with the woman, given the murders occurred when his last relationship broke down.

Ratima stressed that this relationship was different and he was supported by his new partner’s family, but the board wasn’t convinced and denied his parole.

There were, however, positives about the Parole Board highlighted.

Ratima was described as “respectful” in the prison confines and there were glowing reports about his work inside jail.

Given the work he had done with the psychologist, Corrections said there was no need for further rehabilitative programmes.

Justice Preston reserved her decision. – NZME


  1. Never should be allowed out.
    For those that think he should be out.
    Take a walk down riverside cemetery and stand by the Graves of those who he robbed of there life’s. Think about not only them but there families as well. No he doesn’t deserve to see the light of day.

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