Corrections boss wouldn't want 'Beast' as neighbour

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 05:00 16/08/2012
SPEAKING UP: Whanganui resident John Sturmey, centre, said he doubted Corrections and police could control convicted sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

SPEAKING UP: Whanganui resident John Sturmey, centre, said he doubted Corrections and police could control convicted sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson.

JEERED: Corrections Department general manager prison services Brendan Anstiss.
ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ
JEERED: Corrections Department general manager prison services Brendan Anstiss.
Stewart Murray Wilson
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ
'BEAST OF BLENHEIM': Stewart Murray Wilson.

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The man managing the release of the Beast of Blenheim has told a fired up audience in Whanganui he would be concerned too if he lived near Stewart Murray Wilson.

Corrections Department general manager prison services Brendan Anstiss was among several Corrections and police staff who fronted up to about 270 people at a meeting in the city last night.

Many residents who live close to the Whanganui Prison land where Wilson will be paroled on September 1 were at the meeting at Heritage House.

Anstiss was asked if he would be prepared to live next to Mr Wilson. His first two attempts to answer were jeered before he admitted, yes, he would be concerned.

But Corrections and police staff would “walk over broken glass” to ensure the safety of the community, he said.

By law Wilson must be released by September 1 under the conditions imposed by the Parole Board, Anstiss said.

Those conditions were the most stringent for anyone in New Zealand's history.

Wilson would be monitored by GPS 24 hours a day and would be accompanied by two minders when he left his purpose-built house.

“This plan has Mr Wilson living as close to the prison as is possible. His immediate neighbours are my staff at that prison.

“They are not his only neighbours, but they are his closest.”

One of the close neighbours is Pauri Rd resident Jordan Wikotu. Wilson will live in a house 500m from where Mr Wikotu lives with his young daughter and pregnant partner.

“I have a three-year-old daughter, a newborn due in two months and a 20-year-old partner. That's three potential victims living pretty close.

“(Wilson) is not even here yet and we're having sleepless nights already about it.”

Kim Lewis said her late husband was a Corrections officer and she knew his colleagues would do everything they could to protect the community.

But she had concerns about the systems in place around Wilson and how quickly Corrections and police would be alerted if he tried to escape or reoffend.

“You expect me to believe you when you say we are safe. God help you if anything happens.”

Whanganui resident John Sturmey told the meeting he was a victim of another offender and he doubted Corrections and police could control Wilson.

“You have no idea what that predator feels, how he thinks … you have no way of stopping a predator.

Sturmey said Wilson should be left on an island, suggesting White Island as one option.

“You have no idea what you're letting into our community. Find a way to keep him (in prison).”

Many of the audience's questions focused on the conditions of Wilson's release, how he would be monitored and why Whanganui was chosen.

Corrections assistant general manager community probation services Maria MacDonald said the primary reason for picking Whanganui was that it was as far from any of Wilson's victims as possible.

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She would not discuss any other locations which were considered.

The meeting was chaired by Whanganui MP and Chester Borrows, who said “this is an issue where most of us wished this guy didn't exist”.

He said he did not want Wilson in Whanganui but that was the situation they were faced with.

The meeting was organised by Wanganui District Mayor Annette Main to allow residents to ask police and corrections staff about Wilson's release.

Main said it was important residents had an opportunity to voice their concerns and learn more.

“We in Whanganui are faced with a difficult situation and one that I am no pleased about or would ever welcome.”

An extraordinary Wanganui District Council meeting will be held tonight as the council considers its response to Wilson's release.

- Fairfax Media

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