Beast's release 'carefully considered'
Mon, 10 Sep 2012 1:17p.m.
Prison authorities and the Parole Board took great care to consider community safety when deciding to release sex offender Stewart Murray Wilson near Whanganui, a High Court judge says.
Whanganui District Council tried to stop the man dubbed the Beast of Blenheim being released to a house on Whanganui prison grounds, saying the safety of the community wasn't put ahead of the rights of Wilson's victims.
But in a written decision explaining his August 27 decision to reject the council's bid, Justice Ronald Young said the Department of Corrections and the Parole Board had carefully considered community safety.
Corrections' evidence was that it didn't want to retraumatise Wilson's victims by releasing him nearby, saying that it was "not the only criteria but it was an important one".
They then rejected isolated prisons which were too far away from probation facilities and too isolated for Wilson, and also rural prisons "where he may be able to exploit isolated potential victims".
This narrowed the focus to Taranaki, Hawke's Bay and Whanganui, but neither Taranaki nor Hawke's Bay was suitable.
"There is no evidence to support the plaintiff's contention that Corrections focused on where victims lived somehow to the exclusion of the paramount consideration of community safety," Justice Young said.
He added that the Parole Board showed in the strict conditions imposed on Wilson that its paramount consideration was public safety.
Justice Young also released reasons for rejecting most of Wilson's appeal that his release conditions were too strict, saying they were well within the board's ability to impose.
The only appeal ground Justice Young upheld was about his reintegration programme, which was referred back to the Parole Board. He said the conditions were mostly a series of extra restrictions.
"It would be wrong for a reintegration programme to be used as a back door method of placing further restrictions on Mr Wilson."
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