Regan Schoultz is an NZME news service reporter based in Auckland.

Neighbours unnerved at prospect of sex offender returning to Te Atatu street

Ronald van der Plaat, now 82, was sentenced in 2000 to 14 years' jail for subjecting his daughter to years of depraved and bizarre sexual slavery.
Ronald van der Plaat, now 82, was sentenced in 2000 to 14 years' jail for subjecting his daughter to years of depraved and bizarre sexual slavery.

Neighbours living on a Te Atatu street where a convicted sex offender was due to return yesterday say they are unnerved at the prospect of him living on their street again.

Ronald van der Plaat, now 82, was sentenced in 2000 to 14 years' jail for subjecting his daughter to years of depraved and bizarre sexual slavery.

He was released in 2010 on strict conditions but was jailed again for committing further offences in 2012, including making an intimate visual recording.

Van der Plaat is today due to return to his home in the Auckland suburb as he has now completed his sentence.

It is also the location where the majority of the offending took place.

It is unclear however whether he has yet returned.

A large brown wooden fence marking the border of the property is chained shut and curtains are drawn on all the windows in the house.

His inevitable return has residents on the street concerned.

One neighbour, who has been living in the street for over 30 years, said many people were unhappy he would be coming back.

The woman said she had been living there before van der Plaat was sent to prison in 2000 and also when he was released in 2010.

During that time she met him once.

"He was normal looking and normal talking. It was many years ago."

In the years she had been his neighbour nothing ever happened to make anyone suspicious of van der Plaat.

The woman said it was shocking when she found out about what had been taking place in the home.

"I saw it on a programme on TV the first time when [van der Plaat's daughter] reported it to police and they showed that house.

"I was shocked, everyone was shocked."

She said last time van der Plaat was released she saw him coming and going from his property often.

"I don't think he had many visitors. He was quite a lonely guy."

The woman said her daughter and two grandsons aged 11 and 1 and 1/2 years old lived at the home with her.

She said the oldest boy had been spoken to by the family and told not to play on the street.

"I'm worried and other people are worried. Generally this is a nice little community and a reasonably safe road. People have children and I don't think that he feels sorry for what he did.

"The street is not flash but it is nice. Plus who would want to have a child abuser [living here]?"

However, another couple who live further down the street, Kenneth and Patricia Catt, said van der Plaat's return was not a great concern for them.

"We don't have any children so it is not a great concern to us.

"I do appreciate the views of the people here who do have children."

He said one of the neighbours ran a child care centre on the street and van der Plaat's return was a major concern for the neighbour.

The couple have lived on the street for 10 years and during that time had spoken to van der Plaat once.

"He seemed like a normal sort of person. Inviting me to come and inspect his garden and things like that. We had no idea that he had a secret life all of his own.

"We were shocked [when we found out]. You just can't imagine someone doing the things that he was doing."

He said the couple were not expecting any trouble from van der Plaat once he returned to the street.

"I think he would be very foolish to do anything untoward. Everyone will be keeping an eye on him."

Mr Catt said a fence was erected around the property yesterday and today people had come to the house with equipment.

"Somebody was there this morning. I think they were putting equipment in to monitor when he leaves."

News of van der Plaat's return has sparked several neighbourhood meetings.

Many people on the street have children.

One resident, who had recently moved in with his family, said van der Plaat's release was discussed before they moved.

He said the meetings had been a good chance to understand the measures Corrections would put in place to monitor van der Plaat.

He planned to make van der Plaat aware the neighbourhood were watching him.

Corrections has placed an "extensive" range of 21 conditions on van Der Plaat's release.

The conditions include: attending and completing programmes, treatment and counselling as directed; not undertaking culture, craft or creative programmes without approval; not associating with any person under the age of 16 unless under the direct supervision of an approved adult; not possessing any device capable of taking photos or recording images; and GPS electronic monitoring.

- NZ Herald

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