22 Jan 2011

Parole hearing held for rapist/killer of pensioner

3:01 pm on 22 January 2011

Parole has been considered for a man who raped and murdered an Invercargill pensioner in her home.

Justin Garthwaite is serving a life sentence in prison for the crimes against his neighbour, Florence Bennett, 75, in November 1996.

Mrs Bennett's hands were bound and her mouth taped shut during the attack, which ended in her death by suffocation.

Garthwaite, who's now 41, says he's sorry for what he did, but the Parole Board questions whether he understands the enormity of his offending.

Radio New Zealand's justice reporter says Garthwaite poses a moderate to high risk of sexual reoffending, but cannot get a place on an adult sex offenders course until later this year at the earliest.

Mrs Bennett's relatives have expressed scepticism at his progress and have told the board they want his annual parole eligibility cut.

A decision on that will be made next month.