15 Aug 2012

Meeting fails to reassure residents over sex offender

10:39 pm on 15 August 2012

Angry Whanganui residents have told police, Corrections and probation officials they are yet to be convinced they will be safe from serial sexual offender Stuart Murray Wilson.

The 65-year-old is almost at the end of an extended sentence for rapes, bestiality, stupefying, assault and ill-treatment of children over a period of 25 years.

He will be housed on Whanganui Prison grounds following his release, due on 1 September.

On Wednesday, about 300 people attended a public meeting organised by mayor Annette Main.

Eight senior officials faced a barrage of questions from worried and sceptical residents.

Department of Corrections general manager Brendan Anstiss told those gathered that public safety is the No 1 priority.

Residents were told Wilson will be the most stringently managed offender in New Zealand and it will only take 30 seconds for police to respond if his GPS monitoring is tampered with.

But that didn't satisfy the crowd, who shouted at and booed the officials while cheering speakers from the audience who said they still don't want Wilson in the area.

Police told the meeting they didn't like the situation either - but, by law, Wilson must be released.

At another meeting held at the weekend, several hundred residents said they were disgusted at the arrangement.

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says the housing arrangements Wilson will be difficult for him as well as for worried locals.

Mrs Turia has confirmed that when Wilson completes his sentence he will live on the same street as her.

The MP for Te Tai Hauauru told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Wednesday the release conditions are strict and should have been explained to locals earlier, but Wilson will be so isolated he would have been better off to have stayed in jail.

"He's going to be in an incredibly controlled environment ... To be locked down virtually in your house and not be able to have contact with virtually anybody is quite a difficult situation for him to be in."