28 Aug 2012

Council votes to keep Wilson off some properties

10:14 pm on 28 August 2012

The Wanganui District Council has voted to keep serial sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson away from parks, reserves and recreational spaces in the area.

The 65-year-old has served 16 years for multiple rapes and assaults on women, bestiality and ill-treatment of children. He is due be released from Whanganui Prison on Wednesday, but will live in a self-care unit just outside the jail's fence until his house is in place.

On Monday, the council lost a High Court bid to try to block Wilson's release and on Tuesday held a heated last-ditch meeting.

Councillor Michael Laws said a legal opinion tabled at the meeting said the council is entitled to issue notices under the Trespass Act for properties where it is the lawful occupier.

However, lawyers told the council to be selective about the locations it chooses to issue warnings for Wilson to stay away from. They said the council should not trespass Wilson from all council properties - only those places where he could be considered a threat to public safety.

Councillor Jack Bullock told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Tuesday the trespass notice locations will be detailed overnight.

"By the morning ... we will have a full list of the parks, reserves and recreational spaces in the Whanganui district and we will then formulate a list that we'll take to the full council for sign-off for trespassing Stuart Murray Wilson."

Mr Bullock says the trespass notices will include the public library and swimming pools.

He says the Parole Board and the Department of Corrections have acknowledged that Wilson has a high risk of reoffending "and this is just one tool that we can use to protect our people and our community."

The council also voted to form a so-called community safety group and to urgently lobby central government for a retrospective law change.

Mayor Annette Main feels confident the council can trespass Wilson without any legal problems. "We've also decided to coordinate a trespassing campaign against Mr Wilson ... making sure that the community understands what they can do to trespass him."

The council also approved building and resource consent for Wilson's house on the prison grounds.

Meanwhile, the Parole Board on Tuesday considered a revised plan for Wilson's release, but said it may not have a formal decision until Wednesday.

On Monday, the High Court directed Wilson's lawyer Andrew McKenzie and the Department of Corrections to agree on a revised plan before submitting it to the board.

Justice Young ruled against a requirement for two minders to accompany Wilson whenever he leaves his house.

Wilson 'determined release will be successful'

Andrew McKenzie says Wilson is determined to make a success of his release and wants to be reintegrated into the community.

Mr McKenzie told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Tuesday that his client wants to get on with the rest of his life and will meet whatever obligations he has to.

He says Wilson knows it is his last opportunity, and if he reoffends he will be back in jail for the rest of his life.