Sex offender Ronald Van der Plaat's release angers Te Atatu community

Convicted sex offender Ronald Van Der Plaat will be released back into the Te Atatu community, angering some residents.
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Convicted sex offender Ronald Van Der Plaat will be released back into the Te Atatu community, angering some residents.

One of New Zealand's worst child sex offenders will be released back into the community he offended in, frightening some residents.

Dutch-born Ronald van der Plaat, 82, was jailed in 2001 for acts described by his sentencing judge as "indescribable cruelty" against his daughter Tanjas Darke in the Pacific Islands and at their Te Atatu, west Auckland home.

Van der Plaat kept Darke as a sex slave for 23 years, committing heinous acts including hanging her from the ceiling by her ankles before abusing her, making her pregnant with a baby she later miscarried, and raping her after giving her overdoses of drugs and alcohol.

Tanjas Darke, who wrote a book about her lifetime of abuse at the hands of her father.
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Tanjas Darke, who wrote a book about her lifetime of abuse at the hands of her father.

Darke waived her automatic name suppression and went on to write an autobiography, Fight of the Dancing Bird.

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Van der Plaat has reached the end of his sentencing date, meaning he must be released despite concerns from the Parole Board he remains a threat.

He will be released next week to the Te Atatu address he owns, the same address where he abused his daughter.

Van der Plaat was also released on parole to the address in 2010, but in 2012 was recalled to prison after being caught on surveillance cameras at a museum "walking beside a girl of Asian descent holding her hand".

He had befriended the five-year-old's mother, but had not told her of his criminal history.

The Corrections Department has informed nearby residents of van der Plaat's latest release and held a meeting to allay their concerns.

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One resident, who asked not to be named because he feared van der Plaat seeking out his own family, said they were very worried.

They had attended the meeting with Corrections, where residents questioned if van der Plaat could remove his ankle bracelet and offend before being noticed.

"The prick will be offending the moment he gets out.

"Would you want that evil next to your daughter and granddaughter?"

There were also concerns his conditions allowed him access to the internet as his offending had not used the technology, but that did not mean he would not use it in the future.

Van der Plaat will be subject to a raft of special conditions including 24-hour GPS monitoring.

The conditions will exist for six months, but the Corrections Department have applied to the High Court for Extended Supervision Order allowing conditions to run for up to 10 years.

Te Atatu MP Phil Twyford said he had been contacted by concerned residents and had written to the Corrections Minister about van der Plaat's release.

He had asked for an assurance that all options be considered for van der Plaat.

"There are real and just concerns in the community about the risk this man poses to the safety of vulnerable people given his appalling behaviour and the circumstances when he was last released."

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said she had sought information from the department, who had said they were confident van der Plaat's release could be managed.

In a written statement, Corrections northern operations director Lynette Cave said accommodating child sex offenders in the community was complex.

A significant amount of preparation had gone into approving van der Plaat's address and it would not have been approved if it presented an unmanageable risk.

"The staff managing Mr van der Plaat's release from prison are very experienced in managing child sex offenders in the community.

"There are comprehensive strategies in place to mitigate any potential risk he presents, and we believe that his presence can be managed given his previous methods of offending and relationship to victims.

Van der Plaat's offending was some of the worst seen in New Zealand and was likened to that of Austrian man Josef Fritzl, who kept his daughter Elisabeth locked in the basement as a sex slave for 24 years.

Left to raise Tanjas on his own in 1969 when she was nine, van der Plaat began abusing her and took a series of sadistic photos of his naked daughter.

He took pleasure in the pain he inflicted on her and put her head in a specially-built wooden box that he padlocked as he had sex with her.

Darke eventually escaped when she was 32 and fled to Germany, where she contacted police in New Zealand. Van der Plaat was arrested in 1999.

 - Sunday Star Times

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