Wellington – A New Zealand lawyer representing a convicted child-sex killer has suggested that his client may have to be chemically castrated before he can be released on parole because 25 years of treatment in prison had not reduced his risk to society.
The parole board rejected the suggestion, however, when ruling that Peter Joseph Holdem (54), who murdered a 6-year-old girl in 1986 and threw her in a river, after a series of sex attacks on children, must stay in jail.
A board spokesperson told the German Press Agency dpa today: “Experts say that it doesn’t work. It’s an emotional issue for paedophiles and not about their testosterone levels.”
Holdem received a life sentence for the girl’s murder, and under New Zealand law became eligible for parole after serving 10 years.
All eligible prisoners are reconsidered for parole every 12 months unless they agree to a postponement. The spokesperson said Holdem has been denied release three times because the board considered his risk of re-offending was too high.
Refusing his latest bid, the board said yesterday: “The family remain distraught over the brutal murder of this innocent child. They remain in terror that Mr Holdem might be released and further hurt other people.”
The board said no treatment had reduced his risk of offending and his lawyer, whose name was not released, said he was concerned that there were no appropriate programmes available for his client.
The board said: “He thinks that some of the overseas programmes he has heard about might be helpful, particularly aversion therapy or castration, either physical or chemical, and that needs to be investigated, he suggests.”
Wellington’s Dominion Post newspaper quoted the Corrections Department as saying that chemical castration, a reversible procedure in which hormonal drugs are injected to lower a man’s testosterone level, reducing his sex drive, was currently administered to a few offenders who had given consent.
The board’s decision gave no indication of whether Holdem would consent to this, but said he had agreed to postpone a new hearing for parole for two years while he continued to receive treatment.