'Monstrous' serial rapist dies after eluding trial

William (Bill) Paul Cornelius.
William (Bill) Paul Cornelius.

Bill Cornelius - the man unmasked as a "monstrous" serial rapist by one of his multiple victims - has died, four months after evading trial because he had developed mild dementia.

It was revealed in May that, because of his condition, Cornelius would not face a string of charges alleging that he raped four teenagers who were lured to his remote bush farm near Raetihi.

A judge said after reviewing the evidence that Cornelius had probably raped the women over decades of offending.

Cornelius fought to keep his name secret over the course of 25 court appearances, but at a hearing in Whanganui in June one of his victims, Heather Walsh, successfully applied for her automatic name suppression to be lifted and she revealed that Cornelius had terrorised and raped her as he kept her as a sex slave at his isolated farm.

Cornelius walked free from that hearing to be greeted by angry scenes as another victim, who described him as a "filthy mongrel", screamed abuse when Cornelius tried to leave by a side door.

Judge David Cameron agreed with legal submissions from The Dominion Post and Crown prosecutor Lance Rowe that Cornelius was not entitled to permanent name suppression.

Sources confirmed yesterday that Cornelius died suddenly on Sunday at the farm in the Mangatiti Valley where his victims said he raped them. He had been confined there since evading trial.

Ms Walsh said in June the sluggish justice system had let down Cornelius' victims. It was more than two years after Cornelius was first charged to when he developed dementia and medical experts said he was unfit to stand trial.

The Dominion Post