Murderer released: man who put Rotorua woman Tanya Burr to be released from prison

A teenage murderer who killed a young, pregnant Rotorua woman in a frenzied and unprovoked attack with a carving knife 16 years ago, will be released from prison next month.

In 2002 the 16-year-old John Wharekura knocked on the door of the Hilda St flat of Tanya Burr and asked her for a piece of paper and pen, supposedly to write a note for a friend in a neighboring apartment.

When the 21-year-old turned around to get it, he went in and stabbed her 15 times. He was one of the youngest murderers in New Zealand.

At the time of the murder Wharekura had an undiagnosed psychosis.

Tanya Burr, 21. Photo / File
Tanya Burr, 21. Photo / File

Burr's mother, Val Burr from Palmerston North, told Rotorua Daily Post she had feared the release of Wharekura.

A decision of the guards' committee, released at the request of the Rotorua Daily Post, said it was pleased that the release of Wharekura would not pose an excessive risk to the security of the community.

The board said it also accepted Wharekura's insurance that maintaining its medication regime would be his priority.

Under his release conditions, he did not enter Rotorua or Palmerston North, where the Burr family lives. He also has the strict obligation not to own or consume alcohol, regulated drugs or psychoactive substances.

He will be subject to the legal testing program for drugs and alcohol tests for five years and may be required to carry out random drug or alcohol tests.

The decision of the administration suppressed where he would live, but said that it was with a person who was respected by Wharekura.

The decision said that he also had a lot of support in the area and that his supportive people knew their responsibility to let authorities know if they discovered that Wharekura did not meet his release conditions or that his mental health deteriorated.

Police gathering in the Hilda St flats in 2002. Photo / file
Police gathering in the Hilda St flats in 2002. Photo / file

The board's decision said that Wharekura's mental illness had stabilized well on medication. He had progressed to uninhabited ground leaves and accompanied community outings.

He returned to the Auckland Prison of another facility in March this year, which was suppressed from the decision, and began working in the joinery factory. He also works as an administrative order, which is a trusted position within the prison.

Wharekura's lawyer served with the Parole Commission Wharekura took responsibility for his actions immediately after killing. He said that he had gained insight into his mental state of health and had been in agreement with medication.

He said that he was actively involved in sports and had a positive relationship with both staff and other prisoners.

The board's decision said that Wharekura had successfully completed a series of programs and courses in prison.

The decision said a psychological review in June referred to his progress in prison and noted that he had a well-developed understanding of psychological problems and the need for him to continue with his medication regimen.

Under his terms of release is that he completes all programs, counseling, treatment or courses of his probation officer, resides at the given address and does not move unless he has received prior written permission, does not enter Rotorua or Palmerston North, unless he has written in advance has given permission to participate in Community Mental Health Services and to take prescribed medication.

Val Burr said that she & # 39; pretty startled & # 39; was when she heard that he would be released.

"Of course I had expected it, but because I had no specific knowledge of the state in which he had been in recent years, I was not sure if he would make it, I am impressed by the fact that he is actually doing something during his sentence. except that he peeked at the cell walls, and this report is the first time I've seen that. & # 39;

She appealed to the people around him to make sure he met his release conditions, including taking his medication and not consuming illegal drugs and alcohol.

"He will need a lot of support … to achieve that – otherwise he will be back in the slammer."

Tanya Burr. Photo / File
Tanya Burr. Photo / File

She said it had always been hard not to know why he chose to kill Tanya.

"I've always been aware that he apparently took out his hatred of someone on Tanya's body, it was not Tanya he hated, but someone else or other people who had disappointed him in the days and weeks that preceded the murder. on Tanya. "

She said she was always in the back, because that issue could still exist.

"They left him and my daughter was slaughtered. We've seen the damage to her and I washed away Tanya's blood in the flat after we lifted that carpet." That memory will remain our life. "

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