Wanganui councillors to fight Wilson's relocation

Last updated 17:43 12/08/2012
Stewart Murray Wilson
'BEAST OF BLENHEIM': Stewart Murray Wilson.

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Members of the Wanganui District Council have threatened to take all possible action to stop the relocation of sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson into their community.

Wilson - also known as the Beast of Blenheim - is set to be released from prison on September 1 after being jailed for 21 years in March 1996.

Now 65, was convicted on 22 sex charges against woman and children between 1971 and 1994.

Last week the Corrections Department announced Wilson will be subject to what they believe will be the most stringent conditions imposed on any New Zealand prisoner upon his release.

The 17 special conditions include one that will make him the first child-sex offender to be tracked by a global positioning system (GPS).

He has to live in a $70,000 relocated state house on Whanganui Prison property and must be accompanied by minders if he leaves the property.

At a fiery public meeting this afternoon organised by councillors Ray Stevens and Michael Laws, more than 200 members of the public took turns to vent their frustration at the decision.

As a result, seven councillors - Mr Stevens, Mr Laws, Phillipa Baker-Hogan, Jack Bullock, Randhir Dahya, Hamish McDouall and Sue Westwood - signed a direction to chief executive Kevin Ross to call a full council meeting to discuss a policy regarding Wilson.

A resolution was also adopted that the council take all actions, including a judicial review, to ensure Wilson was not paroled into the district.

Mrs Baker-Hogan said members of the public were keen to speak at the meeting, ranging from victims of sexual abuse to those proposing ‘‘vigilante justice’’ on Wilson if he was released.

She realised Wilson had to be released under the law but said there were other options for his release such as army camps and it was unfair to lump him on Whanganui.

‘‘He’s not our bad boy.

‘‘I understand it’s a national problem, I understand he has to be released...but it’s using our city that’s had nothing to do with this man and is trying its best to survive in a recession and using it as a test case.’’

Mrs Baker-Hogan said she had little doubt the council would pursue legal options but hoped it would not come at great expense to the taxpayer.

Council chief executive Kevin Ross said he had received the direction and expected a meeting to take place in the next few days.

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He hoped to receive legal advice on whether the council could challenge the decision today, he said.

While the judicial review was an option there were several avenues available, which would be discussed at the meeting.

A Corrections Department spokesman said officials would take part in a public meeting on Wednesday, but had no further comment to make until then.

- The Dominion Post

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