In March,1996, Stewart Murray Wilson was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment on 22 counts of sexually abusing 21 women over a 20-year period.
The charges were serious and the sentence was justified but now, at the age of 65 and after more than 16 years in custody, he is due to be released.
His discharge conditions are the most stringent ever imposed in our history.
24-hour a day monitoring
Under an Extended Supervision Order, among other things he is to be monitored 24 hours a day at a house on government land adjacent to Whanganui Prison. He must be accompanied by two people whenever he leaves the property.
News of Wilson’s impending release has been received with the most extraordinary reaction from the Whanganui community. A fog of hysteria has descended on the city, with citizens in a public meeting loudly demanding that the decision be rescinded.
Repeatedly we hear that because he is apparently remorseless, Wilson is a high reoffending risk. Some timorous souls have promised to leave the city if he is released near Whanganui; others, with a mentality reminiscent of a Mississippi lynch mob, have threatened vigilante action.
‘The collusion of others’
What people seem to have forgotten is that Wilson’s offending could not have taken place without the collusion of others. Much of the information against him was provided by his co-offenders – women who colluded with him, conspired with him, and assisted him in many of the crimes they later accused him of. They did nothing to remove themselves from the situation or to protect their children from it. Two of them even married him – one of whom was already married. They were never charged.
These things all happened a long time ago. Wilson will be monitored electronically and watched day and night. He will hardly be able to move without somebody knowing about it.
Given that, and his profile, and the fact that in the past he relied on the collusion of others, the chances of him reoffending are virtually zero.
He’s an old man now. He’s paid a heavy price for what he did. He knows that if he ever offends again he’ll get preventive detention and likely never be released. It’s time to let Stewart Murray Wilson get out of prison and get on with the rest of his life.