18 Aug 2016

Neighbours want child sex offender moved from Wgtn suburb

3:55 pm on 18 August 2016

Residents in a Lower Hutt suburb are angry that a child sex offender is living in the area are meeting with the Department of Corrections to ask him to be moved.

A group of residents and Lower Hutt mayor Ray Wallace met with the department today to urge it to reconsider its decision to allow the offender on extended supervision to live in a house in Maungaraki.

An extended supervision order is used to monitor the long-term risk posed by a high-risk sex offender in the community.

Mr Wallace said Corrections would have another look at its decision after he met with officials this afternoon.

He was hopeful the department will move the man elsewhere.

"I don't believe that their process of identifying the appropriate site has been robust enough. We've been able to show them a number of issues that shows that this particular site is flawed, it's not appropriate to have such a serious offender in the location of a family-friendly neighbourhood."

More than 400 residents in the suburb turned out to two separate community meetings in the past week to discuss the move and express their concerns.

Yasmeen Al-Asad was one of them. She said there are several families with children living near the man and she did not understand why Corrections would have allowed him to move there.

"It was an extremely quick decision, and I just felt we should have had more consultation. We should have a say as to whether we'd want someone like that in our community.

"I was extremely alarmed because my kids go for walks, my 10-year-old sometimes takes my four-year-old up the road for a walk to the dairy, and I just feel really uneasy about living a normal life now," she said.

Cushla O'Neill, who lives four houses down from the man and also has two young children, has similar concerns.

She said she was kept in the dark.

"Somebody across the road who looks on to the property from another street came and knocked on the door and told us about it and to be honest my initial reaction was to just leave the guy in peace.

"However when we found out the depth of his offending and the fact that we haven't been told about it [from Corrections] my view kind of shifted about it," she said.

The region's mayor, Ray Wallace, said he thought the location was "totally inappropriate" for the offender.

"I believe that Corrections have to do the right thing, they need to review their decision and relocate this particular individual.

While I understand that these people need to be able to live somewhere, it needs to be in an appropriate, more isolated position, not a place that is a residential home, in a residential neighbourhood which has children and schools in the vicinity."

But Corrections said isolating offenders did not necessarily decrease their risk.

Operations manager for the Lower North region Matire Kupenga-Wanoa said the offender was closely managed by Community Corrections and he has been in the community for 10 years without reoffending.

"In addition he is subject to GPS monitoring and special conditions excluding him from being near schools and parks. He is unable to leave his property unless approved by Community Corrections and when he does leave he is required to be in the presence of another person," she said.

Ms Kupenga-Wanoa said public safety was their priority and Corrections would not approve an address if it considered that it "presented an unmanageable risk to the safety of the community".