Face to face with the Beast
'I'm still a human being'BLAIR ENSOR
Serial sex predator Stewart Murray Wilson has apologised to the people of Whanganui as it emerges he has left his new home to go shopping and fishing.
Speaking publicly for the first time since he was convicted of a raft of horrific sexual crimes nearly two decades ago, the man dubbed The Beast of Blenheim has revealed to The Dominion Post his desire to socialise with women again, his dismay at being kept from his daughter, and his disappointment at the strict parole conditions surrounding his release a month ago.
From his temporary home on Whanganui Prison grounds, Wilson maintained his "not guilty status" and refused to say sorry to his victims. He plans to appeal to the Privy Council against his convictions.
"Maybe I have inadvertently harmed people with what I've said and the way I've done things.
"Why should I give in to take away my own credibility with any admission of any form of guilt now. I've done the time. You can't put a person in jail and make them do extra years and then tell them to say sorry.
"In 2008 I did apologise in the High Court in Christchurch. I said that if people felt I had harmed or hurt them in the past I was sorry.
"As far as I'm concerned, I made my apology and if people don't want to remember, and criticise me for not being human, I can't do anything about that."
He did, however, offer an apology to the people of Whanganui for causing so much anguish in their community.
"I'm sorry I've been bundled into your society and I'm sorry I've caused so many problems, but I have no intention of causing anyone any harm at any time," he said. "It wasn't my choice to come here."
Wilson, 65, was jailed for 21 years in 1996 after his conviction on 22 sex charges against women and children between 1971 and 1994.
He was freed from prison into self-care unit No 5 on Whanganui Prison grounds on August 29 after five failed bids to be released. He will move into a two-bedroom home nearby next week.
Wilson insists he has changed a lot since he was convicted and sent to jail. "I'm a lot older, I'm a lot slower, I've got a lot more mellow, but I'm still a human being.
"I'm not out to hurt anyone or harm anyone or do anything stupid. I'm not bitter, I'm not twisted and I just want to get on and continue my life with a bit more freedom."
He was frustrated with the strict conditions of release imposed by the Parole Board.
"I'm not out of prison. [Inside] you were not kept away from all family and all your visitors - I could share a cup of coffee with a chaplain or officer.
"The situation up here - none of my visitors are allowed a drink with me for fear I might drug them. It's just OTT [over the top] all the way."
He had, however, enjoyed the chance to go shopping and fishing - even if he was accompanied by a team of minders.
"I've been down fishing a couple of times with my minders and I'm the only one who has caught any fish and they are really pissed off."
On Monday he was recognised by two women as he loaded items into his trolley at a supermarket in central Whanganui.
"They just gave me a smile and a little wave and one of them said, ‘hello, Murray'.
He said he had received other offers of support from the community.
Members of Wanganui District Council had been "scaremongering and frightening people" largely because they had been misinformed, he said.
He took aim at councillor Michael Laws, who had been very vocal on the issue, and told him to "look in the mirror at himself".
Wilson said he did not believe he should be trespassed from areas of Whanganui, but it was unlikely he would fight any orders imposed by the council.
Trespassing him from parts of the town would help fuel any request by him to move to another area of New Zealand, he said.
He does not fear for his safety and believes the initial reaction of many in the Whanganui community was to be expected.
"I believe that it was the shock of somebody being dumped on them that didn't want to be dumped here in the first place.
"The Whanganui people and the prison officers have treated me very well - better than I could hope to receive in a South Island prison.
"I'm no threat to anybody and I just want to be left alone."
Retired Blenheim detective Colin Mackay, who led the 18-month investigation into Wilson's offending, disagrees and believes Wilson remains a "substantial risk" of reoffending.
"[Maintaining a not guilty status] tells me that he therefore believes it's quite acceptable to do what he did because it wasn't a crime."
'OLDER, SLOWER' BEAST: I'M NOT A DANGER
He's one of New Zealand's most notorious criminals, but he won't go to bed at night without his daughter's music box.
The heart-shaped music player filled with Christian hymns is one of his most treasured possessions and also sits on the kitchen table when he eats.
Stewart Murray Wilson gave it to his young daughter for her birthday expecting her to keep it forever, but she returned it to him just before he stood trial on a raft of horrific sex crimes nearly two decades ago. "Daddy, you'll need it," were the last words she said to him.
The pair haven't spoken since - kept apart by Child, Youth and Family, which upsets Wilson to this day. "It [the jukebox] is a constant daily reminder about the way things have turned out - that I've failed her, but I still love her."
The prolific sex offender remembers his daughter as a "quiet, kind, gentle soul" he helped deliver at Masterton Hospital.
"She's at the top of my list of prayers every day."
Wilson, 65, was jailed for 21 years in 1996 after being convicted on 22 sex charges against women and children between 1971 and 1994.
During his term of imprisonment the Parole Board blocked his bids for freedom because of a high risk of his reoffending.
In July, clinical psychologist Jane Freeman-Brown said Wilson's very high risk of sexual recidivism was likely to be "lifetime-persistent".
However, late last month, despite grave fears for the public's safety, the Parole Board was forced by law to release Wilson into self-care unit No. 5 outside the wire on Whanganui Prison grounds.
He will live in the unit until his new two-bedroom home nearby is ready for him next week.
The Corrections Department believes the conditions imposed on Wilson - he is tracked by a global positioning system (GPS) - are the most stringent on any released prisoner in New Zealand history.
This week Wilson spoke to The Dominion Post in his first public interview since he was convicted.
The years since he last saw his daughter have been "a living hell", he says.
After he was found guilty in the High Court in Wellington the reviled sexual predator spent time in the "concrete jungle" of Paparoa Prison before he was transferred to Rolleston Prison in Christchurch.
Wilson has always maintained his "not guilty status" and doesn't intend to change that. He believes evidence was fabricated and withheld during his trial and claims to have documents to prove it.
"I tried to do appeals and the Court of Appeal said that it didn't have jurisdiction and suggested I go to the Privy Council. I didn't have the money to go to the Privy Council so therefore it didn't get there."
He also received a similar response from the Supreme Court. Now that he has been freed he is trying to save enough money for another tilt at having his convictions overturned.
Wilson is also unhappy about the strict conditions of his parole. "I still haven't been released. Even with my new house they are putting up cameras all around it.
"Who else in the country has ever had so much publicity or conditions or parliamentary backlash on them when nobody has ever come and faced me off.
"I was held three years, nine months over time. I believe the law as it stands has been adhered to, but I'm at odds with the rules and regulations around the Parole Board stating it's an independent body when it is in fact run by the Corrections Department.
"If I had been released a lot earlier things might have been different - it's an extra three years, nine months out of my life."
Ideally, he would like to buy or rent his own house, drive a car and go whitebaiting as he pleases.
He also wants to socialise with women again, but his parole conditions don't allow for that.
"I'm still being denied that. I don't know about a relationship, but a friendship anyway."
Despite his despair at the conditions, Wilson says he will abide by the rules and insists he is no threat to anyone.
He believes he has changed a lot since he was convicted and has no idea what the future holds. "I'm a lot older, I'm a lot slower, I've got a lot more mellow, but I'm still a human being.
"I'm not out to hurt anyone or harm anyone or do anything stupid. I'm not bitter, I'm not twisted and I just want to get on and continue my life with a bit more freedom.
"I've done the time, I've not complained about anyone or anything, and I'm not even looking for credit for that. I just want to have a quiet life, like go whitebaiting, go fishing, be able to go for a drive or go for a walk along the beach or things like that."
He jokes that he would like to take out a patent on his nickname - The Beast of Blenheim. "No, I don't [like it], but if people want to use it I'll charge them for it. You've got to make a dollar somewhere."
NEIGHBOURS FEARED SEX OFFENDER SO MUCH THEY MOVED AWAY
Stewart Murray Wilson was jailed for 21 years in 1996 for crimes that shocked the nation.
Among 22 charges covering rape, stupefying, bestiality, ill treatment of children and indecent assault were revelations he made his daughter eat whitebait and Weet-Bix from a bowl with the cats and drugged his de facto partner, forcing her to have sex with other women and the family dog.
The eldest son of an alcoholic couple long since divorced, Wilson was born in Temuka, near Timaru, in 1946.
He had two brothers - one who died in a car crash - and a sister.
He attended Marchwiel School and Timaru Technical College before leaving at age 15. "I had a good upbringing, I was good at school, I was always going fishing . . . and bringing home a feed of fish because dad was injured during the war," he said this week.
He got on well with his parents - "That's why they never deserted me."
He still speaks to his mother every week. "They are very genuine and very honest and they brought me up to believe that you love the person, not what they've done, regardless, and that's the way I believe things should be. Everybody makes mistakes. I've made a lot of mistakes."
He refuses to talk about his later teenage years other than to say he was caught stealing from a property and removed from the care of his parents. "All sorts of real hell took place."
His crimes between 1971 and 1994 involved 16 women and girls whom he took into his home on the pretext of friendship and subjected to cruel and degrading treatment. The offences involved luring vulnerable women into his life, then drugging, beating, degrading them and raping them.
One victim was a 13-year-old raped in front of her mother, whom Wilson had earlier drugged. He repeatedly raped the girl in 1984 and 1985 and beat her and her pregnant mother, causing her to miscarry.
A mother of three told the court in 1996 that Wilson kept her a virtual prisoner for two years and forced her to have sex with him on a table in front of her three children while they ate dinner.
The court was told that Wilson, who allegedly stupefied and assaulted the complainant between 1980 and 1982, beat the woman and her children, drugged her with prescription drugs, locked her children in a shed for hours, wanted her to have sex with a dog and asked her to choose one of the girls for a "special purpose".
Wilson instilled so much fear in people that neighbours sold their houses to get away from him.
Even social workers feared him. One reported being so scared of him that she tried to get a climbing rope as an escape measure if he ever trapped her in her office.
After Wilson's convictions, Social Welfare came under fire for failing to protect Wilson's daughter over a four-to-five-year period.
His intimidation was so great that it prolonged the suffering of Wilson's daughter at his hands. In the end, Child, Youth and Family workers and most people who had contact with Wilson began to accept behaviour from him that would not be tolerated in others, the service's chief social worker, Mike Doolan, said at the time.
DENIALS MEAN VERY REAL 'RISK' REMAINS
He might be a pensioner, but Stewart Murray Wilson's continued denial of his crimes means he is still a very real risk to women, the police officer who led the case against him says.
However, a leading criminologist thinks the convicted sex offender's age, notoriety, fear of returning to prison and bizarre circumstances surrounding much of his offending means he is not a threat.
Speaking publicly this week for the first time since he was convicted of a raft of horrific sex crimes in 1996, Stewart Murray Wilson said he maintained his "not guilty status" and refused to apologise to his victims.
Retired Blenheim detective Colin Mackay, who led the 18-month investigation into Wilson, said he was not surprised Wilson still denied the charges.
It showed he was still at risk of reoffending.
"That [maintaining a not guilty status] tells me that he therefore believes it's quite acceptable to do what he did because it wasn't a crime.
"One can only assume that he must be a substantial risk when he is released."
Canterbury University criminologist Professor Greg Newbold said many of Wilson's victims chose to stick with him for many years, which might have created the impression his actions were acceptable.
Prof Newbold also speculated that some evidence in the case might have been untrue, which meant in Wilson's mind he was not guilty of everything.
Regardless of his denial Wilson was very unlikely to reoffend because he was getting old, was well known to the public, and the situations surrounding his offending would be very difficult to recreate.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Is the 100% Pure New Zealand...Related story: (See story)
View obituaries from around the region.
View marriage and birth notices from around the region.
• Reporters: News, Business, Sport, Features
• Newsroom 0800 366 7678
• Website ideas: Email or tweet us
• Place an ad: Email or call 04 474 0000
• Subscribe: Email or call 0800 50 50 90
• No paper: Call 0800 50 50 90
• Start or stop your paper
• Buy a photo
• View the Digital Edition
• Make dompost.co.nz your homepage