Craig Young questions our legal system’s response to drug and alcohol-fuelled crime and asks whether enough detox and rehab programmes are being funded.
My friend Stan Waipouri (1968-2006) didn’t make it to forty. He was murdered by two polydrug users, Ashley Arnopp and Andre Gilling, who were sentenced to imprisonment for his homicide. The pair were high on cannabis, alcohol and party pills when they assaulted and murdered Stan and mutilated his body. Stan was a good person, despite having a drinking problem and ran MALGRA’s men’s coffee group for several years. He didn’t deserve to die that horribly.
It has been seventeen years since Stan’s murder and Arnopp and Gilling have passed the 15-year minimum non-parole period for their crime after both were convicted in 2008.
As a consequence, both men were up for parole in 2021, but it was denied. However, on November 11, New Zealand Herald columnist Jeremy Wilkinson disclosed that Arnopp was released because he’d undergone a drug treatment programme and counselling programme, leading to a positive assessment at his latest hearing. He’s been banned from going back to Palmerston North, where Stan’s murder took place, as well as the Bay of Plenty, Manger and Napier, where previous offences occurred. Gilling has not yet been released and according to Wilkinson’s report, isn’t fitting in well at his Invercargill prison.
How do I feel about this? I agree with one of Stan’s other friends, Danny Delamare, who thinks that this parole date is too early for one of Stan’s murderers, but my heart really goes out to Stan’s whanau, who are having to deal with the trauma and pain of their loved one’s brutal killing all over again with this news. Arohanui to them. They are in my thoughts, particularly at this time.
However, there are several questions that I would like answered, so Stan can properly rest in peace.
One of them involves government funding of alcohol and drug detoxification programmes. Another is related to this: what about LGBTQI-centred alcohol and drug rehabilitation programmes? How accessible are they? Was one available in Te Papaoeia/Palmerston North at the time of Stan’s death? What about subsequently, given the enduring need Stan’s death suggests? Are takatapui tane, whakawahine and tangata ira tane more vulnerable to homophobic and transphobic violence? Because, clearly, Stan wasn’t the last takatapui tane to die from homophobic homicide in Aotearoa- one thinks of Ihaia Gilman-Harris (1960-2014), brutally slain in a motel in 2014. His killers, Leonard Nattrass-Berquist and Beauen Wallace-Loretz were also jailed for life, with a minimum non-parole sentence of ten years. Given that their trial took place in 2016, that would mean that both men would be up for parole in 2026.
The incoming government is talking tough on violent crime. However, Stan’s murder falls outside the parameters of their response. I don’t deny gang members have some share of responsibility for assaults and homicides, but Arnopp and Gilling did not have gang affiliations. What about substance abuse-fuelled and motivated violent crime? What does the government intend to do about that, and its perpetrators – especially when we, and ethnic, religious and disabled community members too, are victims of hate crimes?
Should parole be deferred unless and until such perpetrators have completed a certified alcohol and drug detoxification and rehabilitation programme? Could we have a cross-party response to the above?