Family killer to be released after 23 years behind bars
ONE of Australia's most violent criminals will be released from prison in the coming weeks, after spending almost 23 years behind bars for the brutal murders of his mother and siblings.
Matthew De Gruchy fronted a public parole hearing via audiovisual link on Friday, where a five member panel announced the convicted killer would be released from custody on parole.
Now 41-years-old, De Gruchy will be released from Long Bay Jail sometime between August 9 and 16, but has been banned from returning to the Shoalhaven or Illawarra regions, where the horrific crimes were committed.
De Gruchy was just 18-years-old when he bludgeoned his mother, sister and brother to death in their Albion Park home in March, 1996, sending shockwaves through the community.
He was arrested three months later for the crimes, but has always denied any involvement, insisting he was at his girlfriend's place and found the bodies when he returned home.
But the jury disagreed, and De Gruchy was sentenced to 28 years behind bars.
The murder weapon was never found but was thought to be a car jack or similar.
His mother Jennifer's body was found in her bedroom, his 13-year-old sister Sarah's in her bed and his brother Adrian, 15, outside in a shed.
Their injuries were so violent that pathologists later said they looked like plane crash victims.
Jennifer's injuries were particularly horrific, with her brain almost forced from her head.
As part of its decision, the NSW State Parole Authority prohibited De Gruchy from contacting his mother's family, but allowed him contact with his father and his new family, who have indicated they will actively support him on parole.
Support After Murder president Peter Rolfe said he had spoken to De Gruchy's uncle Ray Halliwell following the decision, who was "most disappointed" the convicted killer would be released back into the community.
"He feels that as three lives were taken, De Gruchy should have been sentenced to three life terms," he said.
"He should never be released."
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Mr Rolfe said Mr Halliwell was of the impression that De Gruchy "would always be a danger to society" but that the parole conditions imposed were adequate.
"We just hope that he doesn't try to contact his uncle or aunt or any member of (his mother's) family," Mr Rolfe said.
"But he is barred from visiting the area so that should cover that."
In a letter to the NSW Parole Authority last year, De Gruchy concerns about his ability to adjust to life outside prison due to his limited support and skills.
In handing down its ruling, the parole authority warned De Gruchy to seek support from his parole officer if he was struggling at any time.
Mr Rolfe mimicked De Gruchy's concerns after the decision, saying he was sceptical about the 41-year-old's capacity to cope with life on the outside.
"He hasn't had any training, and you have to remember he's been in jail for 22 years now," he said.
"He will have great difficulty adjusting to life in the outside world."
De Gruchy will be monitored by Community Corrections for the duration of his parole, and a progress report will be presented to the parole authority in December to track his progress.
Despite the strict conditions and supervision De Gruchy will be subject to, victim's advocate Howard Brown said the prospect of having him back in the community had taken a huge toll on the family of the victims.
"No matter what sentence you give to the offender, we as the victims, we are the ones who get the life sentence," he said.
"This never goes away for us."
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