Boarders flee threat

Shoddy garage for vulnerable young men

BLAIR ENSOR
Last updated 05:00 15/03/2014

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A convicted sex offender who drugged teenage boys has been renting out shoddy accommodation to vulnerable young men desperate to find a place to live.

Police this week said they were "concerned" about Alexander Ian Clark whose predatory behaviour has previously been linked to the suicide of a 17-year-old and caused irreparable harm to others.

Family of Clark's victims have also warned parents to keep their sons away from him after a Press investigation found up to four young men had been living in an uninsulated garage at the same time on his property in Christchurch.

A victim's father, who cannot be named for legal reasons said: "Get those boys out of there".

Detective Senior Sergeant Neville Jenkins said police had visited Clark's home and found no evidence of criminal offending but "remain interested and concerned".

"Police think it unwise that Clark places himself in a position that conflicts with his criminal history and would not advise it," Jenkins said.

"This is similar to his previous behaviour that led to his very serious convictions."

Jenkins, who led the investigation into Clark's initial offending more than a decade ago, said anyone with concerns or information about the sex offender's behaviour should contact police.

In 2003, Clark, a former national Cub Scouts leader, was jailed for two years and three months after he admitted poisoning three teenage boys with a sex-related drug and indecently assaulting one of them.

He was released from prison in September 2004.

This week, police revealed their concerns about Clark after Press inquiries found multiple complaints had been made to the Christchurch City Council about the backpacker-style living arrangements at his property in Waltham, since 2011.

Up to six young men have been sleeping on the section – in an uninsulated garage, in tents or inside a two-bedroom unit – at any one time.

The complaints related to substandard accommodation and misleading advertising which led prospective tenants to his home, a council spokeswoman said.

When staff inspected the property in 2011 and 2012 they found no action was required.

However, after a complaint from a concerned parent in February four men were found living in a garage, the council spokeswoman said.

Clark was told the living arrangements were "not satisfactory" and that he must close his doors to tenants by March 31.

A letter Clark wrote to his tenants after the council shut him down read: "[I] have always wanted to make sure you had a safe, cheap, healthy place to live in – I'm gutted."

A woman who rescued her son from the garage during last week's flooding told The Press she was shocked to see the conditions he had been living in.

"I wouldn't put my dog in there – it's gross," she said.

Three teenagers who spoke on the condition of anonymity told The Press they found out about the males-only, backpacker-style accommodation through an advertisement on TradeMe.

They were either from out of town or had fallen out with their parents and had to move out of home. Among other things, the advertisement promised access to a home entertainment system, and meals cooked by Clark, who claimed to be a chef. Photographs of the sleeping arrangements were not posted online.

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When each of them arrived, they discovered the living conditions were dire, the food was bad and the rent was higher than advertised.

"How the hell does he get away with this?" one of the teenagers, an 18-year-old CPIT student, remembered thinking.

"It was far, far less than it promised to be."

He knew nothing of Clark's criminal history.

"That's something he needs to tell people."

Another of the teenagers, said Clark was a "really weird, creepy guy."

"It's not a nice place to live."

The 19-year-old could not believe Clark was allowed to rent out his property to young men considering his past.

"It's just disgusting really."

Another of the teenagers, aged 17, moved out of the property this week. "It's pretty s... living in a cold shed but I didn't really have anywhere else to go."

He moved from Rotorua to Christchurch to take up a building apprenticeship.

"I needed a place – that was the only one."

Police began investigating Clark after Tim Hueston, 17, was found dead in a car at Clark's Hornby house in 2001.

Clark had been the assistant national Cub Scouts commissioner, instructing leaders on the group's code of conduct, until he quit in 2000.

He had been forced out of the scouting movement for sexually inappropriate behaviour.

Police interviewed several other teenagers after the death and found Clark had been plying them with beer and a drug called isobutyl nitrite, and providing gay blue movies.

The drug, also known as Rush, is popular among drug takers for enhancing sexual pleasure. It can cause dizziness, nausea, and ultimately, coma and death.

Some of his victims, including Hueston, had been boarding with him at the Hornby house.

When The Press visited Clark's home this week he said he was late for a hospital appointment and drove off in his car without making comment. When phoned later he hung up.

Anyone with information or concerns about Clark can contact Christchurch police on (03) 3637400. Information can also be provided anonymously to the organisation Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

MUM WARNS 'GET THEM OUT'

Pam Hueston broke down in tears when she learned Alexander Ian Clark had been renting his home to teenagers again.

"It was like getting punched in the gut and stabbed in the heart at the same time," she told The Press.

Her son committed suicide while living with Clark in 2001.

"If there's any young boys involved, get them out of there fast.

"He's evil, he's a total sicko."

Tim Hueston, 17, was found dead in a parked car.

In the months leading up to his death, he had been plied with the sex-drug, isobutyl nitrite, or Rush, by Clark, who he had been boarding with at a home in Hornby.

In September 2003, a coroner ruled the teenager committed suicide.

Pam Hueston and her husband Doug spoke to The Press this week because they wanted to warn people to stay away from Clark.

"If I was a parent and I knew that guy was out in the community I'd be doing my absolute best to make sure my son or my friends' sons never got near him and I'm really serious about that," Doug Hueston said.

He encouraged anyone with concerns about Clark to contact police immediately.

"It's better doing that than not doing anything."

In January 2001, the Huestons were farming in Le Bons Bay, Akaroa. After leaving college, their son Tim wanted to be a builder and needed a place to stay so he could take a course at the Southern Institute of Technology.

The Huestons found an advertisement in the Buy Sell and Exchange offering board at Clark's Hornby home.

Clark seemed like the perfect host. He was well mannered, educated and to top it all off, he told them he was a national Cub Scout leader.

As it turned out, he had been forced from the scouting movement for sexually inappropriate behaviour.

The Huestons said Tim was a "happy go lucky" teenager with a positive outlook on life before he moved in with Clark. "He was the love of our lives."

- The Press

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