Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Corrections criticised for 'appalling' decision to house rapist next to school

The man with name suppression had been serving a sentence for raping a 13-year-old girl which occurred just 10 days after he released from prison in 2001. Photo / File
The man with name suppression had been serving a sentence for raping a 13-year-old girl which occurred just 10 days after he released from prison in 2001. Photo / File

Corrections is being heavily criticised for its decision to place one of New Zealand's worst sex offenders - released from prison just last week - just metres from a school and not telling them.

The man, who has name suppression, was placed within 10m of Te Kura o Maori Nga Tapuwae when he was released from prison last week.

He had been serving a sentence for raping a 13-year-old girl which occurred just 10 days after he released from prison in 2001.

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While the man was due to be moved to permanent accommodation today, school principal Arihia Stirling said it was "appalling" that Corrections did not tell the school he would be across the road for nearly two weeks.

She also said that students had film and photos of the man making "inappropriate" hand and tongue gestures to female students.

Corrections said its hands were tied in the matter, after a public protection order was declined by a High Court Judge and that extensive supervision measures were in place.

However, Local MP Su'a William Sio said the decision to move the offender so close to a school, and near a number of other schools, showed "flaws" in Corrections' processes.

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"I would have thought the correct thing to do was for Corrections to consult with local schools and there's a number of schools around the corner.

"It is just outrageous to put a serious offender next to the school. It's like putting a fox next to the chickens. There is no way you can actually have eyes on him 24/7 and the school has actually given Corrections these videos that the kids took of him making inappropriate gestures."

Letter sent out by Te Kura Maori O Nga Tapuwae school principal Arihia Stirling warning parents of a convicted sex offender who has moved near the school.
Letter sent out by Te Kura Maori O Nga Tapuwae school principal Arihia Stirling warning parents of a convicted sex offender who has moved near the school.

He raised his concerns with Corrections Minister Judith Collins, who said she was unable to intervene.

"I cannot intervene in the management of individual offenders, however I sought advice from my officials on this matter," she said in her written response to Mr Sio.

"I have also spoken to the chief executive of Corrections who agrees with me that it is preferable that Corrections makes notifications, as appropriate under the law, regarding the placement of offenders of this nature."

Corrections spokesman Alastair Riach said "a short video, taken on a cellphone, of a person at the address" had been provided by the school and had been passed to the police to investigate.

He had now been moved to the new address, which had been made secure.

"The new address has been assessed as suitable for this offender based on its distance from the street and security features. The property is on a fenced rear section and has had enhancements made to ensure that it is as secure as it can be.

"The offender had two staff, employed by a contracted service provider, monitoring him at all times and he is electronically monitored.

"He is not able to leave the residence without the permission of a probation officer, and must be accompanied by the contracted staff. He must comply with 21 extensive conditions which are some of the most stringent imposed on an offender residing in the community."

Judge criticised

Sensible Sentencing has also weighed into the debate saying the organisation was "outraged" the judge declined the public protection order.

"This is appalling, the principal has had to take it into her own hands to notify the community and parents of her students for their safety," said spokeswoman Jess Mcvicar.

"Corrections have deemed this man at high risk of violent reoffending, they had tried to keep the offender in a secure premises, but their plea was turned down.

"That judge needs to be held accountable, he has basically played with the wellbeing of the public and their safety - he has basically handed these students to the offender.

"When on earth are these judges going to wake up and listen to the Corrections department and public, when are they going to put public safety first?"

Ms Mcvicar drew parallels to the Tony Robertson case.

Robertson was found guilty of the brutal and deadly attack on North Shore woman Blessie Gotingco while he was on strict release conditions.

"Students have been taunted by this man already, he has only been out for a week -- you can not tell me he is obeying these strict conditions.

"If he is meant to be under intensive monitoring and strict supervision where on earth were they when he has been performing these gestures to these students?"

The case added more weight to arguments for a public sex offender register, she said.

- NZ Herald

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