14 Apr 2024

Julianna Nuku, who took an elderly Taranaki widower’s money then killed him, denied parole

7:17 pm on 14 April 2024

By Tara Shaskey, Open Justice reporter of NZ Herald

Bernard Boylan.

Bernard Boylan's body was found in a car parked on Ngatimaru Rd, near Waitara, Taranaki, in 2004. Photo: NZ Herald

A woman who fleeced an elderly widower of his money and then bashed him to death with a heavy steam iron wants out of prison but her "entitled and demanding" behaviour has those responsible for her release concerned.

Julianna Shontel Nuku, who has an extensive history of theft and deception, conned retired Taranaki bricklayer Bernard Boylan, 79, by telling him the cash he gave her was to pay her debts.

In reality, she had an out-of-control gambling addiction and was feeding it into pokie machines.

Nuku, then 47, went on to beat the Inglewood man to death with a steam iron and then took his chequebook and wrote out cheques, having copied his signature.

She wrapped Boylan's body in a sheet and left it in the boot of his car and parked it on Ngatimaru Rd, on the outskirts of Waitara, Taranaki.

He was found two days later, on 27 April, 2004.

Boylan, a friendly man, had lived alone since his wife died in the late 1990s and was last seen when he attended mass at Inglewood's Sacred Heart Church, the Herald previously reported.

The following year, in August 2005, Nuku was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum period of imprisonment of 17 years.

At the sentencing, she continued to assert she was not involved in Boylan's murder but that hit men had killed him. However, she was remorseful and took responsibility for what they had done.

Justice Paul Heath did not accept Nuku was remorseful and said any remorse was for the predicament in which she now found herself. He said her history had all the hallmarks of a con artist.

Boylan was described at the hearing as a vulnerable, frail old man who had trusted Nuku, who in turn exhibited a high degree of brutality, cruelty, depravity and callousness against him.

Fast forward 19 years and she is now eligible for parole.

This week, Nuku, now in her mid-60s, appeared before the Parole Board for her fifth attempt at being released.

The common theme of the hearing was concern for her failure to take responsibility for her actions.

Wearing bright colours, a cross necklace and with her hair swept in a high, side ponytail, she said she now accepted full responsibility for her offending but that she was not the person who killed Boylan.

"I wasn't in my right self, should I say. I am fully responsible for it but if you can understand, I just felt that another person inside me actually took over."

When board member Paul Elenio questioned whether she was making excuses, Nuku said she played the complete role.

"It was horrendous, it was cruel, it was unjust doing what I did. There was no excuse and it was only through my greed, my selfishness..."

Nuku said she has worked on herself while in prison and it was only through that work that she now accepted her actions.

"I hate, I hate, hate, I hate myself doing that," she said through tears.

Nuku is now in the reintegration stage of her sentence and part of that has involved guided releases, a tool used to test inmates, Elenio said.

But on occasions, Nuku has failed that test.

While on a guided release, she went to an eatery with her sons and behaved "passive-aggressive" towards a worker because there was no food on the menu or in the cabinet they wanted to order.

She told the board she had behaved that way because she was disappointed but later apologised to the worker.

On another occasion, Nuku "manhandled" another inmate when they were getting onto a bus for a shopping expedition because she wanted the window seat.

Board member Dr Jeremy Skipworth, a forensic psychiatrist, said Nuku had described the latter incident in a way that believed she did not do anything wrong.

He said Nuku showed a low tolerance and patience to situations out of her control and that her personality traits included having a sense of entitlement and being demanding, which related to her risk of reoffending.

When it was pointed out to Nuku that she was responding inappropriately to situations, she needed to reflect on it rather than defend it, Skipworth said.

Nuku accepted she had handled the situation wrong and said sometimes she could be "too direct".

Board chairperson Sir Ron Young circled back to the eatery incident and how her response had been to explain how important it had been to her to get the right food.

"You really missed the point. We can all have frustrating events like this, it's the way you react that matters. You didn't focus on that at all," he told her.

"And there's a repetitive, sort of... talking about the fact the person who committed all of these frauds and the murder kind of some way wasn't you. Well, it was you.

"And if you don't think it was you and you don't understand the risks that arise from that, that's really worrying."

He said her "excuses" and "entitled" behaviour all went "into the pot that make us concerned for you".

Young went on to grill the credibility of Nuku's plan to pay her debt at a fixed weekly rate once out of prison, when she didn't know for certain what her income would be.

"We are going to be really cautious with you because before you came to prison you had a lifetime of dishonesty."

He said Nuku had 96 convictions for fraud, dishonesty and theft, and 15 convictions for disobeying court orders.

"And then murdering a person for money, an elderly man, all of that makes you a really unusual person," Young said.

"It is really important that we understand all of your motivations."

Nuku's relapse prevention and safety planning was not complete, the board agreed on.

While it included gambling, negative thoughts, boredom and "people that she meets in pubs" among her high-risk situations, it failed to identify her determination to take money that did not belong to her, as she has shown in her offending.

She was denied parole but would return before the board again in December.

Nuku was urged to develop her safety plan during that time and was told she would be further tested in the reintegration process.

- This article originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.