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WILSON - Stewart Murray - 29/04/2011

Review of section 107 order

    Under section 107(6) of the Parole Act 2002



Stewart Murray WILSON


Hearing:
29 April 2011
at (withheld)

Members of the Board:
Mr A Ritchie (Panel Convenor)
Mr J Thomson
Ms S Pakura

Counsel:   
(name withheld)for Applicant
(name withheld)for Respondent
   
Supporter:
(name withheld)

Witness:
Ms (withheld)

DECISION OF THE BOARD



Stewart Murray Wilson is serving a sentence of 21 years for offending against women and girls extending over a 25-year period.
 
On 16 December 2008 the Board made an order under section 107 of the Parole Act.  It did so because it was satisfied (in terms of section 107(3)) that Mr Wilson was likely to commit a specified offence if released before his applicable release date of 1 September 2012. 

In terms of section 107(7), the Board must revoke an order if it is no longer satisfied that the test in section 107(3) is met.  If it revokes an order, the Board must determine the release conditions that will apply to the offender on release.
 
In our consideration of this review, we have taken account of the two-fold test in Secretary of Justice v M (1990) 6 CRNZ 57 which requires the applicant to satisfy us that there is a real or substantial risk of reoffending of the specified kind within the specified period if an order is not made, and that such risk is significantly greater than the risk of recidivism ordinarily attaching to such offending.

We have looked first at the parole assessment report.  We are told that it is apparent that Mr Wilson continues to see himself as somehow special and expects his needs and wants to be dealt with immediately, regardless of other considerations or the consideration of others.  The report noted as a matter of concern a file note which referred to an instance that he, on being checked by the female night watch staff, (details withheld under section 9(2)(a) of the Official Information Act 1982)

For this review, the Board also has the benefit of a further report (dated 7 April 2011) from the psychologist Ms (withheld).  It is significant that Mr Wilson refused to sign the consents ordinarily required by psychologists in this situation, including consent to disclosure of information.  Nevertheless, he proceeded to provide information and, following receipt of legal advice, Ms (withheld) has included details in her report.

Ms (withheld)’s report says that during her interview with Mr Wilson, he was evasive, argumentative, litigious, solicitous, ingratiating, threatening and intimidating.  In addition, he is said to have told Ms (withheld) that he had agreed to meet her to demonstrate his co-operation to the Parole Board.  In Ms (withheld)’s view however, Mr Wilson presented himself to her as unwilling to discuss a safety plan directly, despite having requested the opportunity to do so. 

We are further advised by Ms (withheld) that Mr Wilson declined to sign a consent form for treatment and was thus precluded from treatment.  She said that if he were to consent he would be seen as a treatment priority by the Psychological Service.

Ms (withheld)’s report goes on to say that Mr Wilson was uncooperative in regard to his release plans and, given the dearth of information he was prepared to provide, she did not consider the plans for the management of risk either by the Department of Corrections or by Mr Wilson himself.

On the issue of the potential to reoffend, Ms (withheld)’s report said that there had been no evidence of overall change in scores or risk-ratings.  She said her purported risk assessments were current, reliable and valid.  Overall, her current assessment was consistent with previous reports which indicated that Mr Wilson remains at high risk of committing further sexual offences. 

In her report and on her further evidence given to us today, Ms (withheld) noted that the ACUTE 2007 Risk Assessment Test could not be formally administered due to Mr Wilson’s incarceration but she did note that even in the stable and structured prison environment Mr Wilson demonstrated a number of factors which indicated the presence of acute risk should he be released.  Specifically she said that within the last six months, Mr Wilson has made threats during the interview with her, demonstrated defiance towards those who offered him reintegration assistance as well as the demonstrated evidence of sexual behaviour which is, in Ms (withheld)’s view, inappropriate and possibly intentionally abusive.

By way of further comment on the issue of the risk of Mr Wilson committing a specified offence within the period remaining until his applicable release date (now about 16 months away), Ms (withheld) said (at paragraphs 25 and 26 of her report): 

“25    Regarding the risk of Mr Wilson committing a specified offence within the period remaining until his applicable release date (now less than eighteen months), the following factors need to be considered: his high scores on the static measure of risk of sexual offending (ASRS); the presence of significant psychopathic traits (as measured by the PCL:SV); a high number of dynamic risk factors (as measured by the Stable 2007); evidence of sexual deviance (based on the extent and nature of his offending history); his ongoing denial of offending (which precludes treatment engagement); and refusal to engage in release planning and external management of his risk.  Both local and international research suggest that individuals that demonstrate this constellation of factors continue to pose a high risk of reoffending over the next (up to) ten years.  While current risk assessment standards do not predict which individuals within the high risk group will reoffend, those in the high risk group are more likely to offend than those in lower risk groups over the period of up to ten years validated by research.

26    Furthermore there is also recent evidence of the presence of factors that increase Mr Wilson’s acute risk in the short term following his release, and within the time frame remaining prior to his applicable release date.”

Ms (withheld) said that the recommendations made in her earlier report of 7 October 2010 remained appropriate i.e.
(a)    Mr Wilson continues to be assessed as at high risk of sexual recidivism in the next ten years, a period including the remainder of his applicable sentence, were he to be released to the community.  He continues to deny his offending and refuses to engage in offence-related treatment or to develop a structured release plan suitable for his risk profile.
(b)    Mr Wilson is strongly encouraged to work with the Case Management Team to develop a release plan, including accommodation options and support network that will assist him to manage his risk on release.

We have paid particular regard to submissions made on Mr Wilson’s behalf by his counsel (withheld).  Following his cross-examination of Ms (withheld) on various issues relating to statistical risk, (withheld) emphasised that the “window” of time between now and the applicable release date was becoming ever shorter.  He said the Board needed to be satisfied that Mr Wilson would commit not just an offence but a “specified offence” within that time.  (withheld) also made reference to Mr Wilson’s advancing age and he urged on us the view that Mr Wilson would be closely managed and monitored on parole and be subject to some onerous conditions. 

Mr Wilson and his supporter, (name withheld), both addressed the Board.  Mr Wilson spoke of his misconduct-free record in prison and (name withheld) expressed the view that the time had come for Mr Wilson to be in a controlled parole environment in the community.

In determining this review, the Board has carefully considered the information before it.  We have paid particular attention to the decision of the Court of Appeal in regard to Mr Wilson’s appeal from the High Court decision on his appeal from the Board following the making of the section 107 order.

The Court of Appeal in fact found it had no jurisdiction but went on to say that it would, in any event, have dismissed the appeal on its merits.  The Court considered it was plain on whatever approach (Secretary of Justice v M or Belcher) the Board could be satisfied that the section 107 test was met.

We have looked at all the material for an indication of change in Mr Wilson’s circumstances that are sufficient to satisfy us that we must revoke the order.  We can find none. The issues of the shortening period to the applicable release date and Mr Wilson’s advancing years come down to a question of judgement for us.  We have listened to and considered the arguments back and forth on whether the risk posed by Mr Wilson is a real risk and one significantly greater than the ordinary statistical risk.  In the end, we have to exercise our judgement as best we can given our obligations under the Parole Act.

Uppermost in our consideration are the following matters:

a)    the extent and nature of Mr Wilson’s offending which the Board, when making the section 107 order, summarised in this way:
“Mr Wilson took women and girls, often their daughters, into his home on the pretext of friendship.  The victims, and there were many of them, were often vulnerable.  Once a relationship was established, they were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment.  They were subject to assaults, indecencies and often rape.  Mr Wilson then took control of their lives to an extraordinary degree with compliance being obtained by force or threats of force”;
b)    the absence (for whatever reason) of treatment, along with his continued denial of offending;
c)    the psychological assessment of the high risk of serious recidivism;
d)    the absence of a robust relapse prevention plan;
e)    the absence of a comprehensive and realistic release proposal;
f)    the lack of cooperation evident in relation to the most recent psychological interview;
g)    the unusual behaviour outlined in the parole assessment report.

Specifically on the issue of advancing years and shortening timeframe there is insufficient, in our view and in terms of Mr Wilson’s risk, in the mere effluxion of six months.  We feel well supported in that by the psychologist’s view of Mr Wilson’s short-term risk.

Taking all of the material before us into account, we have decided that Mr Wilson’s risk of reoffending in terms of section 107(3) is real and well beyond the ordinary statistical risk.

That being the case, we have no basis for interfering with the order which, necessarily, will continue subject to the next six-monthly review.


Mr A Ritchie
Panel Convenor


Review

•    You may apply for a review of the Board’s decision under section 67(1).  The only grounds under which you may make an application for review are that the Board, in making its decision:

a)    Failed to comply with procedures in the Parole Act 2002; or
b)    Made an error of law; or
c)    Failed to comply with Board policy resulting in unfairness to the offender; or
d)    Based its decision on erroneous or irrelevant information that was material to the decision reached; or
e)    Acted without jurisdiction.

•    To apply for a review you must write to the Board within 28 days of its decision stating which of the above ground(s) you consider to be relevant in your case and giving reasons why you believe that ground(s) applies.
 
•    Reviews are considered on the papers only.  There is no hearing in respect of your Review Application.