Beast of Blenheim 'still a risk'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 14:50 05/07/2012
Beast of Blenheim
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

VIDEO LINK: Stewart Murray Wilson gives evidence via video link from Rolleston Prison to the High Court today.

Stewart Murray Wilson
IN COURT: Stewart Murray Wilson, pictured in 1996.

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The man dubbed the Beast of Blenheim remains a very high risk of further sex offending, the High Court in Christchurch was told today.

Stewart Murray Wilson, 65, is due for release on September 1, after a total of 18 years in prison, but will remain under release conditions imposed by the Parole Board for three years.

The Department of Corrections today pressed for a 10-year extended supervision order for the 65-year-old.

An extended supervision order would apply from September 1, 2015.

Justice Graham Lang reserved his decision after the hearing in the High Court at Christchurch today and said he hoped to deliver it in writing in a week.

Wilson was convicted on 19 offences in 1996 and jailed for 21 years. The charges included the rape of five woman and also bestiality.

He continues to deny his sexual offending, shows no remorse and is seen as having a limited capacity for empathy. He has never engaged in psychological treatment.

A clinical psychologist, Jane Freeman-Brown, said she believed years of psychological intervention would be needed to reduce his risk.

"His risk will remain for his life or until he is no longer able to have physical interactions with others," she said.

His very-high risk of sexual recidivism was likely to be "lifetime-persistent".

She prepared a report from the information on file about Wilson because he declined to be interviewed for an assessment of risk. She recommended the Department of Corrections seek a 10-year extended supervision order.

She said he was assessed as being a high risk of sexual recidivism. She had assessed his sexual deviancy and preoccupation. There were numerous notes in his prison files about sexual inappropriate behaviour including  masturbating in front of a woman night watch in February 2011. He was aged 64 at the time and the incident suggested he still struggled to control his behaviour, the court heard.

The combination of sexual deviancy and psychopathic traits put Wilson into a very small but very high risk group of sexual offenders.

She said Wilson had been convicted of offending against highly vulnerable victims by manipulation and control.

"My assessment is that his method of sexual offending will not be overly affected by the ageing process."

She said Wilson was likely to target highly vulnerable female victims for any future offending. They could be vulnerable because of age, or severe addiction problems, or physical problems.

In March, she obtained a file about Wilson, which included a story about a forceful sexual encounter between a horse and a girl.

"The female character had a very similar name to one of his victims," the psychologist said.

Prison manager Wayne McKnight told of prison staff finding a typed story during a routine search of Wilson's cell in 1999 or 2000. He said Wilson's offending was well-known and it seemed he continued to be "having these kind of thoughts".

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"To put them in writing I find quite offensive and disgusting."

The story was produced in court. Wilson was in a shared cell at the time and denied writing it.

Other letters typed by Wilson were produced in court for comparison of the typeface. McKnight said he passed the story on to a psychologist at the time.

Cross-examined by defence counsel for Wilson, Andrew McKenzie, the clinical psychologist said she expected that Wilson's risk factor would only change slowly, given his 40-year history of sexual deviancy.

She believed he was in a category where a study had showed 36 per cent of offenders reoffended against children over 10 years. Another study suggested there was a 6 per cent chance that someone his age would reoffend against any victim.

She was asked to comment on the long periods in Wilson's history when there was no offending against children.

She said it could be relevant but she had been asked to look at the current predictors that would put children at risk of him offending against them.

She confirmed the defence contention that there had been no convictions for misconduct during 18 years in prison, though many instances of inappropriate behaviours had been documented.

Wilson gave evidence briefly, only to deny that he had written or possessed the story. At that time he had been frequently out of his cell, and his cellmate would have access to his typewriter, television, and religious tapes. Crown prosecutor Catherine Butchard put to him the name of the girl in the story was similar to the name of a woman who had given evidence against him.

A clinical psychologist called by the defence, Craig Prince, said a study showed that there was a dramatic decline in sexual and violent offending after offenders reached 44 years of age. At age 68, the risk would be lower still as a result of "burn-out" among offenders.

He believed Wilson's risk could be moderated to some degree during the three years when he would be out in the community under strict parole conditions, before an extended supervision order began.

McKenzie urged the judge to delay considering an order until after Wilson's release into the community on parole because more would be known at that stage.

Justice Lang granted permission to media to film and photograph Wilson during the first five minutes of the hearing and at any time when he spoke or gave evidence via video link from Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch.

TV3 and Television New Zealand had argued that there was public interest in the case and interest in knowing what Wilson now looked like - 16 years after his convictions. TV3 reporter Jeff Hampton quoted from Parole Board documents citing fears that Wilson would reoffend immediately upon release, and remained a risk because of his ability to avoid detection, his denial of his offending, and his unwillingness to participate in any treatment programmes.

Wilson opposed the media applications, saying that there was a principle that people should be able to be "free without hindrance".

"I can't have that if you allow the media to expose me and create further outside problems," he said.

- The Marlborough Express

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