Killer may have ‘played’ Vic parole system

Killer may have ‘played’ Vic parole system

Training in detecting offenders who “play” the Victorian parole system might have helped the officer who dealt with double murderer Steven James Hunter.


Hunter fatally stabbed and bashed 22-year-old Sarah Cafferkey at his Bacchus Marsh home on November 10, 2012, just 11 days after he completed parole for other offences.

He had already been convicted of murder in 1988.

Jenni Johnstone dealt with Hunter on parole, while working as a community corrections officer in mid-2011.

Nothing about his behaviour raised an obvious “red flag”, there was no indication he was offending and he was co-operative and receiving treatment, Ms Johnstone told an inquest on Wednesday.

She didn’t believe Hunter was a risk to the community for a number of reasons, including his stable accommodation, work and future plans.

Ms Johnstone hadn’t received any specific training to distinguish manipulative parolees.

She was asked whether, on reflection, there was anything that could change to enhance dealings with people like Hunter.

“Training around attitude and being able to identify … those offenders who can play the system,” Ms Johnstone said.

She said Hunter knew “what he had to do” to complete parole.

Drug testing wasn’t a condition of Hunter’s parole, despite the murderer having a history of abuse and an association with users.

Ms Johnstone was aware Hunter was socialising with drug users, and she informed the Adult Parole Board of that, but there was no sign he was using drugs.

She said Hunter didn’t display signs of drug use such as a dishevelled appearance, weight loss or erratic behaviour.

Hunter told Ms Johnstone some of his friends were smoking drugs in February 2012 and he had declined to partake, a lawyer for Ms Cafferkey’s family told the Coroners Court of Victoria.

“You have an ability to request him to undertake testing, don’t you,” Fiona McLeod, SC, asked Ms Johnstone.

Ms Johnstone said she could have asked the parole board to add drug testing to Hunter’s conditions, but they would generally require some evidence he was using.

Victoria Police assistant commissioner Stephen Fontana said Hunter incurred speeding infringements while on parole, but those offences didn’t amount to a breach.

After murdering Ms Cafferkey, Hunter drove her body to Point Cook where he put it in a wheelie bin and poured concrete on it.

He is now serving life in prison.

The inquest into Ms Cafferkey’s death, before state coroner Ian Gray, continues.