Beast of Blenheim challenges release conditions

Last updated 15:57 10/08/2012

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The so-called Beast of Blenheim, Stewart Murray Wilson, has begun his challenge to the stringent release terms imposed on the high risk sex offender by the Parole Board.

The first round of the fight drew an instant hearing in the High Court at Christchurch today, but was quickly ruled out as a Writ of Habeas Corpus.

Instead, the case will be heard as a judicial review of the Parole Board's decision and has been set down by Justice John Fogarty for call in the High Court on August 20.

That is only nine days before 65-year-old Wilson's release from prison at the end of his long prison term imposed in 1996 for offending against women and girls over a lengthy period.

His final release date is September 1, when he is meant to be released to stay in accommodation near Whanganui Prison, under supervision. Whanganui was chosen because it is one of the few places in the country where none of Wilson's victims live.

However, Wilson's counsel Andrew McKenzie said today that the actual release would be on August 29. Such releases took place on the Wednesday before the official release date.

He filed papers today for a Writ of Habeas Corpus and that brought a hearing within a few hours - ahead of other scheduled business - because the writ procedure is used in cases where someone is being unlawfully detained.

However, Justice Fogarty ruled almost immediately that it was not a case of Habeas Corpus. Wilson was actually being lawfully detained in prison at present and the writ procedure could not be used to challenge some future "detention" under parole conditions.

A High Court hearing has already imposed the maximum 10-year extended supervision order on Wilson after his release.

The Parole Board's conditions will have him living close to the prison property, under electronic monitoring.

Other conditions include not leaving the Whanganui district, not associating with anyone under 16 unless an approved adult over 20 years was present, not having any female at his address, having no contact with his victims, completing a reintegration programme, attending sessions with a department psychologist to develop a safety plan, not engaging in any employment without approval, not possessing any electronic device capable of accessing the internet, not joining any clubs, groups, associations or churches unless approved, not placing any advertisements in any publications or responding to any such advertisement by another person, not owning or driving a vehicle, not possessing or consuming alcohol or illicit drugs, and not attending any addiction support groups.

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"Mr Wilson wants to challenge these conditions," said McKenzie at today's hearing.

He said one of the conditions was to undertake a "reintegration programme". He had since learnt that this condition involved two people following Wilson around and monitoring him at all times.

Although the proceedings could not go ahead as a Habeas Corpus hearing, Justice Fogarty ruled that they could be turned into an application for judicial review, and McKenzie agreed to this.

McKenzie undertook to file the statement of claim on Tuesday and Chris Lange, appearing for the Department of Corrections and the Parole Board, said he would try to file the statement of defence before the hearing on August 20.

On that date, another judge will consider the applications from the parties about the next step in the proceedings.

Justice Fogarty made it clear that he did not expect that the review could be settled before Wilson's release.

He told McKenzie: "He would be released on whatever conditions are imposed by the Parole Board. If you want to challenge these conditions, you have got the right to do so, but in the meantime the conditions still apply."

- The Press

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