8 Apr 2011

Disqualified drink-driver who killed woman gets parole

8:36 am on 8 April 2011

A disqualified drink-driver who killed a Nelson woman while he was in the police witness protection programme is to be freed from prison.

Jonathan Barclay was jailed for the manslaughter of Debbie Ashton in a head-on crash in December 2006.

In October 2006, Barclay was disqualified from driving, but when stopped for driving with excess breath alcohol he gave his new identity issued under the witness protection scheme. Two months later, while disqualified under both names he drove again, killing Miss Ashton.

The case sparked a ministerial inquiry which found failures by the Police and Corrections, and led to a Government apology to the Ashton family.

Barclay, 31, was sentenced to five years and six months in prison.

The Parole Board says he is well-behaved, remorseful, drug-free and has satisfactorily completed psychological counselling.

Barclay will be paroled later this month to a residential rehabilitation facility, but is banned from driving, contacting the Ashtons or entering the South Island.

Ms Ashton's mother, Judy Ashton, says Barclay should serve his full sentence, however she is welcoming the strict conditions on his release.