Beast of Blenheim walks from prison
LATEST: The reviled sex predator dubbed The Beast of Blenheim has walked free from prison this morning under the cover of darkness.
Stewart Murray Wilson, 65, walked into self care unit No 5 outside the wire of Whanganui Prison about 6am.
It is understood he has already been fitted with a new GPS monitoring system. Security guards with dogs are patrolling the perimeter.
Wearing a green jersey, Wilson was escorted onto the property by an entourage of about eight people after arriving in a white van. He wasted no time getting inside his new home. The curtains have been closed.
Security was stepped up at Whanganui Prison as it awaited the release of Wilson.
His move to the area has been greeted with outrage by the community and members of the district council, who voted at an extraordinary meeting last night to ban him from all its parks, reserves and recreational spaces.
However, the council accepted that it had no choice but to approve resource and building consents for a two-bedroom state house to be moved on to prison grounds for Wilson outside the fence.
Lawyer Hayden Wilson advised the council by letter that the law allowed them to trespass Wilson for two years from any buildings in the city where “council is the lawful occupier”.
But he advised them to be selective about the locations they chose, and to single out areas such as playgrounds and other recreational areas where he “could be considered to be a threat to public safety".
The meeting was called to discuss how the council dealt with Wilson's release after a judge threw out its appeal at a judicial review in the High Court at Wellington on Monday.
The council failed to convince the judge that the Parole Board had not followed the correct process in deciding that Wilson should be freed to Whanganui.
At last night's meeting, the council agreed to seek legal advice about making a challenge to the Court of Appeal once the reasons surrounding the judge's decision were released.
An “action team” will also lobby the Government about introducing retrospective legislation to keep offenders such as Wilson in jail permanently.
Wilson was jailed for 21 years in 1996 after being convicted on 22 sex charges against women and children between 1971 and 1994.
Justice Minister Judith Collins said yesterday that she was considering putting forward a law change that would allow the Corrections Department to keep Wilson behind bars.
Her proposed public protection orders would allow High Court judges to review the cases of former prisoners subject to extended supervision orders, and put them back in jail if they were still a risk to the public.
Whanganui's public "shunning" of Wilson will be co-ordinated by councillors Jack Bullock and Ray Stevens.
“I don't have any faith in the Department of Corrections and the [release] conditions," Mr Bullock said at last night's meeting. "They [Corrections] have a bad track record.”
Councillor Michael Laws said the decision to ban Wilson from areas of the city would have implications throughout New Zealand.
“Corrections, Probations and the Parole Board have had their way for too long in terms of releasing dangerous people into communities.
“I have little doubt that, throughout New Zealand, councils and communities will be looking at Whanganui and thinking, ‘Great, that's what we're going to do'.”
The council also voted to establish a multi-agency safety group to protect the community from Wilson and other sex offenders.
Mayor Annette Main said the decisions made by the council would help keep the community safe from sex offenders such as Wilson.
“He is not our only threat, but people need to know what to do about that threat.”
Meanwhile, the Parole Board met yesterday to consider a revised reintegration plan for Wilson. Its decision is expected today.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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