2 Nov 2023

Corrections changes community notifications after review into murder of Juliana Bonilla-Herrera

4:36 pm on 2 November 2023
Juliana Bonilla-Herrera was murdered in her Addington flat in January 2022.

Juliana Bonilla-Herrera was murdered in her Addington flat in January 2022. Photo: Supplied

Corrections has changed its community notification policy to include adult sex offenders, after a Christchurch woman was killed by her neighbour while he was on parole for rape.

Juliana Bonilla-Herrera was murdered in her Addington flat in January 2022 by her neighbour Joseph James Brider. She was unaware he was on parole for sexual violence.

Brider had been released on parole less than three months earlier in October 2021 and he attacked Bonilla-Herrera as she slept in her bed.

Following an independent report by Dr Gwenda Willis, Corrections said it had changed its community notification criteria to include more offenders, including adult sex offenders.

Corrections spokesman Darius Fagan said public safety was its top priority and Corrections was committed to making sure communities felt safe, informed and confident in its work.

It had accepted all seven recommendations in the report and was working on making improvements.

Fagan said significant changes had been made to the referral process for people requiring intensive reintegration services.

Any decision to withdraw referrals would in future be overseen by an expert panel that included senior Corrections and police staff.

Previously, Corrections had notified the community of people who had offended against children.

Now, neighbours would also be notified of people who had committed sexual offences against adults or general violence when there was an above-average risk for sexual or violent reoffending. Decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

He said there would continue to be cases where the community was not notified - for example, if offending had happened within a family setting, or the victims were known within a small community.

"We must always be confident that any notification will not inadvertently lead to the identification of the victims of crimes and cause them further harm and distress."

Corrections staff would be given additional support and oversight to manage offenders in the community.

"We fully acknowledge that the location of offenders can be a concern for communities, and we work hard to balance this concern with our obligation to safely manage people in the community when they can no longer lawfully be detained in prison."

Fagan said each year around 15,000 people were required to be released from prison and staff worked hard to ensure each person was safely reintegrated into the community.

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