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Sister Angry Murder Accessory Could Be Free After Year

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, Jan 13 NZPA - The family of a murdered Dunedin man feel "let down" that a woman who helped dispose of his body could be released just over two months after being jailed.

It was one year yesterday since Michael Hutchings' body was found dumped in the Clutha River, several days after he was stabbed in Kaitangata in south Otago.

His killer Christopher Wayne Patterson, 38, was jailed for life, with a non-parole period of 13 years, for murder in October last year.

Patterson's former de facto partner, Nichole Field, 30, was sentenced to two years' jail after admitting being an accessory after the fact. Mr Hutchings' sister Sarah, 17, said yesterday she was angry that Field could be released next week after serving less than one year including the time spent in custody awaiting trial. Field drove Hutchings' body to the Clutha River where it was weighed down and dumped in the water.

Ms Hutchings said s he had thought Field would be in prison for the full two years -- a sentence she thought was "ridiculous".

" To let her out after less than a year, I just don't know what to think," he told the Southland Times.

"I thought I would have at least another year to heal, to work things through in my head. ..Someone should do something to make sure that this does not happen again."

She told the Otago Daily Times that the news of Field's release -- which she was informed about by media yesterday -- had been a blow to her family, and that the entire justice system had let them down.

"I had absolutely no warning that this was going to happen. I have received no official information from the Parole Board, from police, or from any other court or justice department.

"My family and I were let down and blown away by the sentencing and now we are being let down by the Parole Board. I'm so angry and upset about the whole thing."

But Parole Board spokeswoman Sonja de Friez said today the board has no role in releasing offenders who have sentences of two years of less, and called Ms Hutchings' comments " incorrect and inappropriate".

"In this case, the offender's sentence means the board has no involvement in either the offender or any registered victims. "The release of offenders, and the informing of victims is a role the board takes with the utmost consideration and seriousness."

Patterson and Field had name suppression at the time of sentencing because they faced separate unrelated rape charges.

But the suppression lapsed yesterday when the charges were withdrawn by Crown prosecutor Robin Bates in Dunedin District Court.

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