13 Jan 2009

Woman's release automatic, says Parole Board

5:34 pm on 13 January 2009

The Parole Board says it has nothing to do with the release of a woman jailed for being an accessory after the fact to the murder of a South Otago teenager.

Nichole Field, 30, was sentenced to two years in prison for helping convicted murderer Wayne Patterson, 38, dispose of the body of Michael Hutchings, 18, in the Clutha River in January 2008.

She will be released this month after serving half of her sentence.

Mr Hutchings' family reportedly feels let down by the Parole Board for releasing her so soon.

But a spokesperson for the board says someone sentenced to two years' prison or less is automatically released after serving half of his or her sentence.

She says that is a legal requirement and the Parole Board has not had any involvement.

The body of Mr Hutchings was body was found in the Clutha River a year ago, wrapped in a mattress cover and weighed down with steel bars. He had been stabbed.

Patterson is serving a minimum sentence of 13 years in prison for murder.