Wilson's lonely life

It is nearly three months since Stewart Murray Wilson was released from prison on parole near Wanganui. He talks candidly about his new life, the reaction to his coming here, and how he fills his days.

Stewart Murray Wilson. Photo / Herald On Sunday
Stewart Murray Wilson. Photo / Herald On Sunday

Paroled sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson is "bored out of my tree", spending at least 20 hours a day alone at his house near Whanganui Prison.

He said that at least in prison he had 60 people to talk to every day if he felt like it. He is not allowed to talk to prisoners in the self-care units nearby, or make contact with his wife and children. He has been told he can make a one-day visit to his mother in the South Island - but only stay for two hours.

And after all the hype, the man who has always been called "Murray" sounds like anyone else on the phone. He was ready enough to talk but hoped the Chronicle would not "ramp up" the story.

He gets lonely sometimes and has not had many visitors. Those who come cannot eat or drink with him, unless they bring the food and drink themselves.

He does get a visit from probation officers each week day and can leave the property only with their permission.

In the first three months since his release from prison he has made some fishing trips, had a bush walk at Gordon Park and out in the "backblocks", and shopped in a supermarket - he would not say which one. He has also spent 15 minutes at the Automobile Association centre in Victoria Ave to renew his driving licence - with two Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Society (PARS) minders ahead of him and one behind him. He said they had been instructed not to let him talk to anyone.

"Am I ever going to get a chance to walk down the street or anything?"

He wanted to go to the Isla Grant concert at the Royal Wanganui Opera House on October 31 but was told he was not allowed because his safety could not be guaranteed.

He has no plans for Christmas but said he would like a typewriter so that he can write his own story, "not leaving much out".

"If you were to hear the real story and everything else behind it, you would know it."

Apart from the initial uproar when his move to Wanganui was announced, most of the local people he had met had been good to him.

"As much as I want to be down south, I quite like Wanganui. I like the people I have met to date."

Staff at Whanganui Prison were welcoming and not "arrogant and judgmental" like South Island prison staff. And he would like the community to be more supportive of the men he spent a lot of time with, Wanganui's PARS re-integration workers.

Wanganui had nothing to fear from him, he said, because he was not going to fight or mouth off at people.

He saw his strict parole conditions as setting a precedent.

"I don't want to upset and spoil it for somebody else, so I do think about other people."

Wanganui people were "all wound up by Michael Laws and co" over his presence and he said it was those vocal councillors who should pay the $77,000 Wanganui District Council spent on appealing the decision to parole him there.

"What they were doing is vigilante, and we don't need councillors to have a vigilante mindset."

He has only had one negative reaction while out in public.

A man recognised him from a newspaper photograph and started "mouthing off" one day when he was out fishing. The reaction of the PARS men and himself was to pack up and leave, and Mr Wilson has not returned to that fishing spot.

He is unwilling to be photographed again because of the incident and said his appearance had changed since.

What he would have liked to do on his release was buy a car and spend the season whitebaiting in the South Island. He also wants to put a headstone on his son's grave, which is "in the same cemetery as the chap [a police detective] that created all this hullaballoo".

Failing that, he has to amuse himself at home by gardening inside his wooden fence, which he said "passes the time".

"I've got 19 rows of potatoes that have sprouted up eight inches high, and sweetcorn, and lettuces and cabbages."

He is on an old-age pension and has bought a television to watch. He reads the Wanganui Chronicle. He is not allowed a computer but learned the basics of how to use one while in prison in Christchurch.

He cooks for himself and spends time replying to letters written to him. He said he had been getting "quite a few".

"They're horribly disgusted with the position I have been put in."

There has been no hate mail so far and he doesn't want any. He has even been sent a tin of homemade biscuits. "I just want to live a quiet life, and I'm very thankful to the people that have given me little gifts and letters of support. All those little things help, but it's just a pity I can't go out and see them and speak to them face to face."

The Probation Service was trying to do its best for him but he said his current conditions were nothing like being released from prison.

People dealing with him were "on tippy toes" because they knew he would charge them if they did anything wrong. He had asked for and been given charge sheets (forms used to lay criminal charges) that he can use on "whoever comes up against me". He has not needed them so far, and is hoping that will continue.

He is not being charged rent for his house and said that was because of a legal "Catch 22" situation.

He said he could take or leave the publicity but it did affect other people.

"The more people want to regurgitate and have a go at me, they're actually creating more problems for other people, like my alleged victims."

THE WILSON FILE

- Stewart Murray Wilson, 65, was born and raised in Timaru.
- He moved to Australia in his 20s and lived in Sydney before moving to Blenheim.
- In 1996 he was arrested, tried and found guilty on seven charges of rape, one of attempted rape, six of indecent assault, two of stupefying, one of attempted stupefying, two of wilful ill-treatment of a child, three of assault on a female, and one of bestiality.
- He had denied all charges and continues to do so.
- He served 18 years in prison before being released on parole in September. Under strict release conditions he is required to live in a house on the the grounds of Whanganui Prison at Kaitoke.
- His settlement in Wanganui was unpopular, given he had no connections to the region - which was the Corrections Department argument for moving him here - and his history of offending.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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