Victorian double murderer deemed low risk

Victorian double murderer deemed low risk

He is now serving life behind bars, but lawyers say the man who murdered Sarah Cafferkey was excited by violence and should never have been released from jail.

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Steven James Hunter fatally stabbed and bashed the 22-year-old Ms Cafferkey at his Bacchus Marsh home on November 10, 2012 – 11 days after completing parole for other violent crimes.

He then drove her body to another property at Point Cook, where he put it in a wheelie bin and poured concrete over it.

An inquest into her death heard on Tuesday that a Corrections Victoria computer tool did not take Hunter’s violent criminal history into account when deciding to grant him parole two years before Ms Cafferkey’s murder.

It also failed to take his aggressive, violent and sometimes manipulative behaviour into consideration, the Coroners Court of Victoria heard.

The Deputy Commissioner of Operations for Corrections Victoria, Roderick Wise, said while the computer found Hunter to be a low risk of offending, the system was overwritten to assess him as a moderate risk so he could gain access to programs he would not receive if considered a low risk.

During questioning before Coroner Ian Gray, Mr Wise said Hunter presented as the model parolee – never giving corrections staff any reason to think he was returning to old habits or becoming an increased risk to the community.

“He performed as required,” Mr Wise told the hearing.

“I think, generally speaking, Mr Hunter responded well to parole. He turned up and gave them no reason to believe he was a risk to the community.”

Fiona McLeod, a lawyer for Ms Cafferkey’s family, told the inquest there was evidence that during his parole period Hunter was using drugs, manipulated his caseworkers and was still excited by violence.

But Mr Wise said Hunter had told corrections staff he was living a “drug-free lifestyle” and never gave any indication he was using drugs.

In a report completed two weeks after his parole ended, clinical psychologist Jenni Johnstone highlighted several behavioural problems in Hunter, including hostility towards women.

Later, Mr Wise agreed Hunter could have been “putting up a facade” and that policy changes since Ms Cafferkey’s death could address similar instances.

The hearing will continue on Wednesday with Ms Johnstone expected to take the stand.

STEVEN JAMES HUNTER’S LONG CRIMINAL HISTORY:

1986 – First time in custody aged 17

1988 – Convicted of murder, sentenced to 16 years with a minimum of 13 years

1990 – Escaped from Pentridge Prison, four months added to his sentence

March 2002 – Breached parole, ordered to serve almost three more years

July 2002 – Re-paroled

October 2004 – Breached parole, ordered to serve balance of 2 years, 10 months and 11 days

2005 – Found guilty of dangerous driving, possession of amphetamine and served three months cumulatively

April 2005 – Convicted of theft, kidnapping, assault causing injury and drug trafficking, sentenced to a minimum of 4.5 years.

April 2011 – Paroled on April 30

October 2012 – Parole period ends and sentence lapses

November 2012 – Murders Sarah Cafferkey 11 days after parole ends.