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News: Mother of Zak Greive increasingly concerned for his welfare

Matt Garrick, ABC News, 29 April, 2019

The grieving mother of a "naive 19-year-old" imprisoned for a murder he wasn't there for says her son is growing increasingly frustrated in jail and claims he is being unfairly targeted by staff due to his high profile.

Now 27, Katherine man Zak Grieve's case has drawn international attention since he was handed a mandatory sentence for his involvement in the murder of Ray Niceforo in 2011, despite the fact he wasn't present at the time of the act and had pulled out of the plot to kill the man before it happened.

He was found guilty for his involvement and was handed a life sentence of 20 years without parole under the Northern Territory's mandatory sentencing laws, and has been incarcerated in Darwin's Holtze Prison since his conviction.

Despite having been granted a rare eight-year reprieve in his non-parole period by NT Administrator Vicki O'Halloran in December last year, Grieve has been languishing in prison, according to his mother, who has become increasingly concerned for his welfare.

"I am so worried because now he's stopped ringing me," Glenice Grieve said.

"It seems to be one hurdle after another. My son's been sitting there for eight years, not doing anything except staring at four walls, bored out of his mind."

Despite her son's willingness to work in prison, she said he was continuing to face obstacles preventing him from doing so.

"It's because the system, Correctional Services, don't have … anything implemented to help people progress in there, so it's like a revolving door," she said.

"I've noticed over the years that people are in and out, in and out.

Ms Grieve also said her son had been put under added scrutiny by prison staff since his parole period was slashed, and was having requests to work constantly knocked back.

"One request after another request to better himself in programs … even requests of jobs to clean [toilets] are always denied, one after another," she said.

With his non-parole period coming up in 2023, Grieve has begun starting to think about life outside of prison, his mother said, and was hoping to work as a video game creator, artist and author.

In prison he has been drawing and writing — she said he had written two books since being incarcerated — but was now longing for more work to ward off increasing boredom.

"I think after the [Administrator's] decision, it's like, 'you may think you're somebody, but in here you're not'," Ms Grieve said.

"So [knocking back his requests is] making him aware that, 'You aren't special. In here you're nobody'.

A spokesman for Correctional Services said the department took, "very seriously any allegations of the mistreatment of prisoners and when reported these are fully investigated".

Corrections Commissioner Scott McNairn declined a one-on-one interview with the ABC over Grieve's situation. A spokesperson said, "NT Correctional Services does not speak publicly about the details and circumstances of individual prisoners, for a range of privacy and security reasons".

Attorney-General Natasha Fyles said she would seek a full briefing from the Corrections Department.

"However, this is an operational issue and I have full confidence in the Commissioner for Corrections," Ms Fyles said.

She said there was "always opportunity for improvement" regarding the programs in place for prisoners.

"Corrections is undergoing a significant body of work to ensure we are delivering the best possible service for Territorians into the future," she said.

Grieve's mother called on Ms Fyles to urgently review her son's case.

A review into mandatory sentencing laws flagged by the NT Labor Government in 2016 has so far failed to publicly materialise.

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