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Dilworth abuser Ian Wilson to remain behind bars for at least another year

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By Elizabeth Binning, Open Justice editor of NZ Herald

Ian Robert Wilson was sentenced today over sexual abuse perpetrated at Dilworth School.

Ian Robert Wilson at his sentencing at Auckland District Court on 23 March 2021.
Photo: RNZ /Jordan Bond

Former Dilworth housemaster Ian Wilson will remain in prison for at least another 12 months after today being declined parole for the second time.

It was news Neil Harding, one of his victims, was glad to hear.

“The thing I’m really happy with is that it’s 12 months before he gets another (hearing) which means he will be closer to serving his full sentence,” he said after giving an oral submission to the board for the second time since Wilson has been eligible for parole.

Wilson was jailed in March 2021 to three years and seven months for indecently assaulting five students between 1975 and 1992 – some of them more than once and over a period of several years. He had previously been convicted in 1997 and fined $3000 for sexually offending against another student on an overnight trip to Dargaville in 1978.

During his sentencing his lawyer said Wilson accepted he was a predator and was remorseful for his actions – but he was introduced to “degenerate” behaviour at the school.

“He was approached by a staff member who introduced him to a mode of behaviour at the school that was degenerate, and he fell under the spell, but that is in no way an excuse and he accepts and acknowledges that.”

He said he took full, complete and absolute responsibility for his actions and hoped his victims could find a way to “heal from my actions”.

However, Harding said in his submission today he feels Wilson is yet to show any real remorse and asked the Parole Board to keep him behind bars.

“Last time, I pointed out that his behaviour had probably been impeccable, he would be a model inmate. But I would say he always knew how to work the system, and fortunately for everyone, there are no little boys in prison to test this.”

He said he believed Wilson was “still a threat to the public, to his family and his grandchildren”.

Wilson told the board he had just started, but was yet to complete, a rehabilitation programme. He was also working on his safety plan for release but acknowledged he was yet to find suitable accommodation.

Harding has previously asked if Wilson would be prepared to participate in the Dilworth Independent Inquiry. When asked about that today Wilson said he had spoken with inquiry chair Dame Silvia Cartwright and there are plans to meet for a second time in the New Year.

Harding told the board parole hearings were difficult for victims.

“Unfortunately, only two days after the last hearing, I received a letter advising me of the next one, this one. I appreciate that Ian Wilson is entitled to these hearings, however, as a victim it is an emotional rollercoaster.”

He felt Wilson should serve his full sentence, saying he had already received enough discounts at sentencing and did not deserve any more concessions.

After the hearing Harding told Open Justice he feels the board considered that when not only declining parole but not setting another hearing date until 12 months.

“I think they have taken that on board and that feels quite validating that they would do that.”

Board convenor Judge Eddie Paul said there were a number of factors the board took into account when deciding whether Wilson should be released. They included the fact he was an untreated sex offender who is yet to complete a rehabilitation programme and he doesn’t yet have a suitable release plan, or somewhere to live.

* This story originally appeared in the New Zealand Herald.

Story Credit: rnz.co.nz

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