26 Nov 2019

'Beast of Blenheim' fails latest appeals against recent sentence and convictions

1:44 pm on 26 November 2019

The serial rapist dubbed the Beast of Blenheim has failed in his latest challenge to his convictions and sentence.

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Stewart Murray Wilson Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Stewart Murray Wilson was jailed for two years and four months last November for the historical rapes of two women and a young girl.

He had been living on the Whanganui Prison grounds after serving every day of his 21-year sentence for a string of violent sex attacks on women between the 1970s and 1990s.

Wilson stood trial for further offending last year and a jury found him guilty of a further 11 charges of sexual and violent offending against two women and a young girl.

Justice Lang adopted a totality approach in sentencing him; as if the defendant was being sentenced on the latest charges in 1996.

Wilson appealed both his convictions and sentence to the Court of Appeal which heard his case on 6 August.

On the convictions, his long-standing lawyer Andrew McKenzie argued the judge should have stayed all charges before they got to the trial.

On the sentence, Mr McKenzie argued the outcome of two years and four months was manifestly excessive because the judge had not given a sufficient discount for the delay in which the charges were brought before the court.

At the time of his 1996 trial, Wilson faced a further 23 charges of additional sexual and violent offending against several other women.

This second indictment was never used and in 2000 the Attorney-General entered a stay of proceedings on it.

None of the complainants in the 2018 trial were included in the second indictment and some did not approach police until after the 1996 trial.

Wilson unsuccessfully applied for a stay of proceedings on all of the new charges on the basis that he could not receive a fair trial.

This was dismissed by trial judge Justice Lang who concluded he could receive a fair trial despite his past convictions and the publicity surrounding his offending.

In the Court of Appeal, Mr McKenzie argued the judge should have placed more weight on the procedural delays in bringing the charges to court.

However, the Court of Appeal backed Justice Lang's decision that the delay in proceedings was outweighed by the seriousness of the charges and that he was able to receive a fair trial.

It also found there was no unfairness in one of the charges being amended to attempted rape mid-trial on the basis of further evidence given by one of the complainants during cross-examination.

Wilson's appeal against his sentence was also rejected; the Court of Appeal finding a stay was not appropriate and the sentence fitted the crimes committed.