Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Child-sex offender moved from neighbourhood after weeks of outrage

Jeremy Lightfoot says a suitable residence will be found in the Wellington region for the offender.  Photo / NZME
Jeremy Lightfoot says a suitable residence will be found in the Wellington region for the offender. Photo / NZME

A child-sex offender will be moved from a neighbourhood after an outcry from nearby residents.

Corrections national commissioner Jeremy Lightfoot said that the man had been moved this morning from the Lower Hutt suburb of Maungaraki to a residence on the grounds of Christchurch Men's Prison.

"This is an interim arrangement until such time as a further suitable residence can be identified in the Wellington region.

"The relocation of this offender became necessary as our service provider's staff had become increasingly uncomfortable with the community's reaction to their presence. Because of this, the service provider regrettably terminated its contract early."

Lightfoot said Corrections would look at what happened with the offender's placement to see if lessons could be learned. "Corrections is also bringing in extra resources to assist with the placement of offenders in the community."

The offender moved to the neighbourhood on August 1.

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

Mallard says it's a relief for the community after weeks of outrage. But he says he won't be in full celebration mode until he knows the offender will be re-homed somewhere away from children.

Donna Stacey lives with her husband and young child two doors from where the offender was housed and told the Herald last week they were unhappy that Corrections did not find out whether children lived in homes within sight of the property.

"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."

Another neighbour, Mike Bell, moved his family out when he found out about the placement, at first renting a bach and then another home.

Today, Lightfoot said Corrections staff and the provider went to great care and effort in placing and managing the man. "Immediate neighbours were notified of the placement, as is my preference with such cases. I firmly believe that Corrections took all reasonable steps to ensure the safety of the community.

"The offender was, and continues to be, subject to direct supervision at all times. He may only leave his residence with prior approval and must be accompanied. In addition, he is electronically monitored ... he has been managed in the community for more than 10 years without reoffending."

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 on Friday 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.

Lightfoot said Corrections staff had a statutory responsibility to place offenders in the community following a direction of the court and Parole Board.

"It is a daily reality that offenders move to reside in the community at the conclusion of their custodial sentences ... we also know that a supportive social network and stable accommodation reduces the likelihood of reoffending."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 17 Jan 2017 20:03:56 Processing Time: 238ms