Tempers flare at 'Beast' meeting

By Anne-Marie Emerson -
Stewart Murray Wilson, the man dubbed The Beast of Blenheim. Photo / File
Stewart Murray Wilson, the man dubbed The Beast of Blenheim. Photo / File

The fury of the Wanganui public was unleashed on the Department of Corrections and police last night over their decision to rehouse serial sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson near Wanganui.

More than 300 citizens turned up to a meeting to ask questions about the conditions under which the "Beast of Blenheim" will live and how the community will be kept safe.

The meeting was called by Wanganui Mayor Annette Main and was chaired by Wanganui MP Chester Borrows.

Corrections and police staff attended the meeting, including Corrections Services general manager Brendan Anstiss and assistant manager Maria McDonald, and Detective Inspector Tusha Penny.

Dr Anstiss said the decision on where to locate Wilson had been based on four things: the location of his victims, having a prison nearby for security, the distance from built-up areas and the ability of police and Corrections staff to respond.

"Underlying all this is public safety," he said.

Dr Anstiss noted that Wilson's wishes on his release were to be allowed to travel through New Zealand in a campervan.

"That was not realistic, and we could not allow that to happen."

While the meeting began quietly, tempers quickly flared and emotions ran high.

A number of people identified themselves as sexual abuse victims and spoke of the impact the news that Wilson would be paroled to Kaitoke had on them.

One man spoke of years of sexual abuse and said that at the age of 41 he still slept with the light on.

"You have no way of stopping a predator, and Wanganui is just your dumping ground," he said, to thunderous applause from the crowd.

Panel members were questioned closely about the GPS bracelet that will be used to monitor Wilson, the training of staff who will supervise him, concerns about the users of nearby Pauri Lake and Lake Wiritoa, and the conditions under which Wilson could be recalled to prison.

People were also interested in how Wilson would carry out day-to-day activities such as grocery shopping.

Ms Penny said that while final plans for such things had yet to be finalised, two probation officers would be in charge of organising Wilson's activities.

One teenager asked what police would do if Wilson was harmed.

Ms Penny said police could not condone vigilante action. "One of our roles is to keep the community safe. We take very seriously offending by Mr Wilson and against Mr Wilson."

- APN

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