Wellington family close curtains against paedophile neighbour

Judith Collins has faced questions about the placement of paedophiles in communities. Photo / File
Judith Collins has faced questions about the placement of paedophiles in communities. Photo / File

A family say they draw the curtains on one side of their house and rush their child to the car after learning a child-sex offender has been placed two doors down.

Donna and Paul Stacey are unhappy that Corrections did not find out whether children lived in homes within sight of the placement property in the Lower Hutt suburb of Maungaraki.

"It makes me feel generally uncomfortable. I am here on my own most evenings because Paul works," Donna said.

"It makes me close myself in - I close the curtains on that side of the house. It just makes your mind go into overdrive, and I do lock myself in. It's silly to feel like that."

Robert John McCorkindale moved to the neighbourhood on August 1.

Labour and Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard yesterday questioned Corrections Minister Judith Collins about the placement, and named McCorkindale under Parliamentary privilege.

"Does the minister agree with advice given by Corrections to the neighbouring parents of 5- and 6-year-old girls, who for years have had a paddling pool on their deck, now overlooked by this paedophile, that they should modify their parenting and have their girls play on the other side of the house?"

Collins replied: "If that report is accurate, then that would seem to be an inappropriate comment."

Today, Corrections regional commissioner Paul Tomlinson rejected Mallard's allegations.

"We are comfortable that these allegations are not correct."

Tomlinson said McCorkindale was very closely monitored and had been in the community for a number of years without any incident.

"He is subject to GPS monitoring and special conditions excluding him from being near schools and parks. He is unable to leave his property unless approved by community Corrections and when he does leave he is required to be in the presence of another person."

Public safety was Corrections' primary priority, Tomlinson said. No address would be approved if it was considered to present an unmanageable risk.

"Community Corrections staff and local police have provided information to neighbours and schools in the area, including advice about keeping safe."

Mallard told the Herald he had got the ages of the children wrong but stood by claims that Corrections had told parents to change the behaviour of their children.

Mike Bell lived in the house between the Staceys and McCorkindale. When he noticed various agencies at the address on the day McCorkindale moved in he called around and was later contacted by Corrections.

He has a 10-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter and decided to move out immediately - first renting a bach and later another property.

Bell estimates he will be $9000 out of pocket as a result of paying rent on two properties, but said he felt he had no other choice.

At a meeting with a Corrections staff member he asked why they did not door-knock nearby properties. He was told that wasn't feasible, he said.

The Staceys had bought their home in March and did not feel they should have to move even if they were renting.

They understood that sex offenders had to be placed somewhere, Donna said, but not in an area filled with young families.

"He doesn't have to leave his home - he looks out his window and can see children in their own homes and gardens. That's the wrong placement.

"We only found out [from our neighbour] that he had moved in. Before moving him in they could have knocked on the door and asked if we had any children."

The placement of sex offenders in the community has come under greater scrutiny after a man who raped a 13-year-old girl was re-housed next door to Jean Batten School in Mangere after his release.

He has since been moved, but further cases have upset communities in other areas.

And today the Herald revealed that two men with convictions for sexual offending against children were living in a Hamilton boarding house with boys as young as 4 years old.

Yesterday in response to Mallard's questions, Collins said she had "a great deal of sympathy" for parents and the public.

Corrections took into account proximity to schools, kindergartens, parks, swimming pools, thoroughfares, and other factors when placing sex offenders, she said.

Corrections' top priority in relocating offenders was public safety, and mental health teams, police, and social services were consulted about placements.

The department's policy was not to place them within 1km of schools, though the minister noted that 500m "may be more realistic" in cities.

Mallard criticised Corrections' measurement method, which was based on distance by road, rather than the distance between a house and a school.

McCorkindale could jump his fence and be in a nearby school playground "in less than three minutes", he said.

Collins said she could not comment on specific cases.

However, she said that McCorkindale had already spent 10 years in the community under intensive supervision and had not reoffended during that time.

"I think it would be helpful to the member if he knew that intensive supervision means that someone is with him 24 hours, seven days a week, as well as GPS monitoring."

Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace has said he will ask authorities to move the child-sex offender, amid concerns for neighbouring children in Maungaraki.

- NZ Herald

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