Whanganui council votes to fight release of 'Beast'
Wanganui District Council has voted unanimously to use any means it can to oppose the release of the Beast of Blenheim to the city.
At a packed extraordinary meeting tonight, councillors passed a motion to use any means available to them to stop Stewart Murray Wilson from being paroled to a house on prison land at Whanganui Prison.
Leading the attack was former mayor Michael Laws, who said Corrections could not guarantee the community's safety.
Wilson was one of the “most dangerous, deviant criminals” in New Zealand history. “I have no faith in the Corrections plan to protect us and our community.”
Whanganui did not want Wilson in its community, and Wilson did not want to go to Whanganui, he said.
Councillor Rob Vinsen said if Wilson was worried about his safety, as his lawyer said yesterday, he should choose to stay in prison.
“Mr Wilson should fear for his safety in Whanganui. Choose to stay in prison, that's where you belong, Mr Wilson, and that's where you'll feel safe.”
Councillor Rangi Wills said Corrections was only doing its job and Wilson had to be freed somewhere.
In the 18 years since Wilson's conviction, politicians had failed, he said, because they had not done anything in the interim to prevent the serial rapist's release.
“They should have predicted we would have someone paroled who should never be paroled. No one should be paroled if there's a risk to the community.”
Corrections had acknowledged the man would reoffend if given the opportunity, he said.
The motion was passed after councillors questioned Corrections and police staff for more than two hours about Wilson's release.
Corrections chief executive Ray Smith said Wilson had to be freed under the Parole Board's conditions.
He was only the second person to be freed to live on prison land. This was the best option to keep him from reoffending and came with a range of conditions that were at the limit of the Corrections Department's powers, Mr Smith said.
Tonight's meeting was held in a packed council chamber. About 50 people were seated in the public gallery with 10 more outside watching on closed circuit television.
It followed a heated meeting in the city on Wednesday night when about 270 people confronted Corrections and police staff.
Many of the people at that meeting were out again tonight.
- © Fairfax NZ News