Cambridge Edition

System fails to protect murder victim

- Virginia Fallon

New Zealanders must rage at the murder of Juliana Bonilla Herrera. Not only has yet one more woman been killed in our country but, in Juliana’s case, a government ‘‘policy’’ went some way to letting it happen.

If you haven’t read the details of Juliana’s death, don’t.

What has been allowed to be reported is the very stuff of nightmares.

Particular­ly, I venture, nightmares of women.

Murder victims shouldn’t only be known for what happened in their last moments, but Juliana let us know about hers.

An app on the 37-year-old’s phone was set to record overnight sounds and, when the thing broke into her flat one night in January, it did.

Ten minutes of horror play out from 12.34am.

In them, Juliana begs for her life; is heard being beaten, bound; fighting desperatel­y.

Other details can be found if you want them, but I’ll spare you.

The thing that murdered Juliana was 10 weeks out of prison, having served nearly eight years for raping, injuring and abducting a woman. Before that attack it had amassed 27 conviction­s, including two for assaulting a female.

One of those involved hand pressure to the throat.

The parole board released the thing with 14 special conditions, including remaining at its property between 9pm and 6am.

It was assessed as a high risk of violent offending and moderately high risk of sexual offending.

In the weeks between moving in next door and murdering Juliana, the thing searched ‘‘Colombia lady’’ on its phone and bought masking tape. Two weeks later it searched her name, later buying condoms and latex gardening gloves.

We don’t know if anybody was watching or checking on the thing, but we do know that, for some unfathomab­le and ultimately fatal reason, Juliana wasn’t told her neighbouri­ng flat was used as a home for rehabilita­ting prisoners, nor about what had moved in.

Despite that, her instincts were pinging. In the weeks before she was murdered she’d told friends she was worried about the neighbour.

He was always watching, she said.

She was so uneasy that, on her last night alive, she asked a friend dropping her off to drive up the driveway and wait until she’d gone inside.

The thing was watching from its porch.

Later that night, after searching violent pornograph­y, and well after its 9pm curfew, the thing broke into Juliana’s house where she begged, fought and ultimately died. Friends found her when she didn’t show up for a scheduled bike ride.

Chief probation officer Darius Fagan has said the Department of Correction­s will review its existing notificati­on policy ‘‘to ensure it continues to support public safety’’.

Current policy largely focuses on community notificati­on for child sex offenders, he said, though it also provides for notificati­on of people on extended supervisio­n orders.

It doesn’t automatica­lly exclude other offenders.

Correction­s can’t be blamed for the existence or actions of the thing that murdered Juliana, but it is undeniably responsibl­e for letting her live unaware next door.

And, although the rights of rehabilita­ting prisoners must always be balanced with the community’s right to know, nothing overrides the right of a woman, or anyone, to be safe in their home.

Correction­s denied Juliana that.

Last week an advocate said Juliana was already scared of the man next door and, had someone told her what he was, what he did, she wouldn’t have slept one night by herself.

‘‘She wasn’t notified. If she had been, she wouldn’t be dead.’’

 ?? ORIANA PERKINSON ?? Juliana Bonilla Herrera, 37, was murdered in her Christchur­ch home where she unknowingl­y lived next to a convicted rapist.
ORIANA PERKINSON Juliana Bonilla Herrera, 37, was murdered in her Christchur­ch home where she unknowingl­y lived next to a convicted rapist.
 ?? ??

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