The Wanganui District Council has taken its first legal step in its bid to keep serial sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson out of its region when he is paroled next week.

Wilson, 65, will be paroled to Wanganui on August 29 where he will be electronically tagged in a house near Wanganui Prison while under constant supervision.

His planned move to Wanganui has provoked outrage from local residents and councillors.

A series of heated community meetings have been held over the decision, but authorities say it is one of the few places in the country where none of his 35 victims live.


The Wanganui District Council today filed proceedings with the High Court to proceed with a hearing at Wellington.

Wanganui Mayor Annette Main said the council's challenge was on the basis that it did not think the recommendation to have Wilson housed on Wanganui Prison grounds was met with the right level of focus on community safety: "Because we believe that the safety of the community is supposed to be the paramount consideration when they do make these kinds of decisions.''

Wilson has served 18 years of a 21-year sentence for sexual offending against women and girls including rape, indecent assault, stupefying, wilful ill-treatment of a child and bestiality.

He has served the maximum time and can no longer be kept in jail. He is deemed to be at high risk of reoffending.

Yesterday in the High Court at Christchurch Murray's lawyer, Andrew McKenzie, launched an urgent legal bid to ease his strict release conditions.

Mr McKenzie said the Parole Board had exceeded its powers in imposing the conditions and he was seeking a judicial review on the conditions and on the place chosen for Wilson to live.

Justice Joe Williams said he had spoken to a Wellington judge who recommended both cases - Wilson's and Wanganui District Council's - were heard together in Wellington.

Both Mr McKenzie and the council had until 5pm today to lodge their submissions, and a hearing for both has been set down for Monday.

At 5pm Mr McKenzie said he was still waiting to receive an affidavit signed by Wilson, but said the judge knew this was the case and said all papers would be filed before tomorrow morning.

The council said there was other destinations, including New Plymouth and Hawkes Bay, where Wilson could be moved.

Ms Main said legal advice was taken at the council meeting last Thursday, and said the council was confident there was a case to be made.

But she said this was not the council's last avenue in trying to keep Wilson away from Wanganui "but this is the one that it's possible to achieve before the time of his actual release".

She said she was aware that it could be seen that the council was just trying to offload Wilson onto another city, but said "it isn't like that".

"Nobody wants this person living in their community, and we are really concerned to find out whether or not Wanganui's prison was the only rural area with the kind of security they need around this person to be able to manage him in this way. None of us want to see him living in a street near anybody in New Zealand."