Mass murderer believed he was 'putting them in a better place'

A New Zealand mass murderer has been denied parole again after it emerged he had started a relationship with a "fragile" woman while behind bars.

Raymond Wahia Ratima, 54, 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.

This month the Parole Board convened at Rolleston Prison for his first hearing in four years.

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

"Mr Ratima throughout the hearing stressed how much he loved his children. When we asked him therefore why he had killed them, he said he felt he then was putting them in a better place," Sir Ron said.

"Overall, therefore, we were not especially confident that Mr Ratima had truly understood the circumstances under which he came to kill these members of his family including, not just his own children, but the babysitter, partner, and others."

The board also heard the prisoner was now in a relationship with a woman he met in his early teens.

The pair met when Ratima was on a guided release about four years ago and there had been regular visits and phone contact between them.

"It is no exaggeration to say that the woman that Mr Ratima is in a relationship with is fragile. She had a childhood trauma that caused or contributed to a serious drug addiction," said Sir Ron.

"Some of the comments she made to the probation officer were of concern, including the fact that relating to the murders 'there are two sides to all issues'.''

Ratima was quizzed about the appropriateness of the coupling given the mass murderer occurred against the background of a relationship breakdown.

His answers did little to convince the board he understood the risks.

"All of this causes us some concern. The relationship is untested. Mr Ratima and the women have only ever had prison visits and telephone calls. The stress of daily living has never been part of their relationship. And the woman has troubled past and seems to be vulnerable," Sir Ron said.

"Mr Ratima seemed to us to be unable to understand the worrying connections between the past and his current situation."

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.

Ratima will next come before the board in October next year.


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