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Former Dilworth housemaster Ian Wilson declined parole again, to reappear in six months

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Ian Wilson has made a bid for parole. Insert, his victim Neil Harding. Photo / NZME

WARNING: This story discusses sexual assault and may be distressing for some readers.

Former Dilworth housemaster Ian Wilson, who was jailed for sexually abusing several students, has admitted he still “notices” adolescent boys but claims to have a plan in place to “control” himself.

Wilson, 72, made the admission today at a hearing before the Parole Board, which concluded with him being declined release for the third time.

When asked if he still found pubescent boys attractive, he drew on a scenario of himself watching television to answer.

“Yes, I notice those boys. But I control myself by turning away and not looking at it, changing channels, doing whatever.

“The situation is a bit like an alcoholic, always has to be a bit careful about the question of another drink.”

Wilson said that was why he had a safety plan and wanted to adhere to it, as he did not want to hurt anybody else.

If he came across young people once released back into the community, he said he planned to remove himself immediately and would not involve himself in any situation where children may be present.

However, he did make it known to the board that he wanted to attend church and visit libraries once released.

Wilson, who worked at Dilworth from February 1971 until his resignation in December 1996, was arrested in 2020 as part of Operation Beverly, a long-running investigation into historical sexual abuse by a number of staff at the Auckland-based boys-only boarding school.

He was jailed in March 2021 for 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.

Wilson was still in jail when he had one year and 11 months added to his sentence in August last year after belatedly admitting to having abused five others.

While Wilson has completed one-to-one psychological treatment while in prison and the recommendation was no further treatment, the board wanted that reviewed.

“Given the length and breadth of your offending we would like that treatment reviewed by way of a psychological report,” board convenor Judge Eddie Paul told Wilson at the hearing, declining his parole.

The assessment was to review the treatment gains, any further treatment that may be required, and also the risk that he may present.

Judge Paul said the report writer would also review Wilson’s release proposal and safety plan.

Dilworth School in Auckland has been linked to a number of historic sexual offending cases.
Dilworth School in Auckland has been linked to a number of historic sexual offending cases.

Wilson would also need to expand his network of support for any eventual release back into the community, the judge advised.

He will next appear before the board in August, much to the disappointment of one of Wilson’s victims, Neil Harding.

When asked by NZME how he felt about the outcome, Harding said: “S***.”

“The thing that really worries me is that they [the board] are saying ‘come back in six months’,” he said.

“I was strongly requesting that he serve his full sentence and that they don’t review it for another year.”

He said it also meant that he had to go before the board sooner rather than later with further submissions to try and keep Wilson behind bars.

It was a traumatic process for him every time, he said.

Before today’s hearing, Harding made submissions to the board, stating it would be a “travesty” for Wilson to be released early, especially so soon after resentencing.

Harding believed Wilson could not be rehabilitated and that he was a continued threat to society.

In his submissions, he slammed the “master manipulator’s” continued claim of remorse, pointing out Wilson had already been caught lying about the true scope of his offending.

“At the first review, I mentioned that two other survivors of Ian Wilson had not yet approached the Police. I recommended the Parole Board ask Wilson if he was truly remorseful, and if so, he should identify the other victims who had yet to come forward,” Harding said in his submissions.

“When asked, he denied there were others. Subsequently, on August 23 of last year, he was sentenced for historical abuse against another five Dilworth boys.

“One of them was abused three times a week for six years from 1988. Wilson had lied to the Parole Board.”

In his submissions, Harding claimed he knew of two further survivors who were yet to come forward.

“So, I again request the Parole Board ask Wilson if there are other victims. Of course, if he was truly remorseful, he would tell the truth.”

The board did ask Wilson at the hearing, many times, whether there were other victims.

While at one point he said “not that I am aware of,” he was otherwise adamant there were not.

Harding, who waived his automatic right to suppression, said Wilson has spent a lifetime encouraging people to believe he is a trustworthy individual.

“We know now this was always a facade, and in fact, he is the opposite, a master manipulator, a sexual deviant who preys on children, a sadist, an opportunist, and to this day, he creates strategies that only serve him.”

The Dilworth crimes have shocked New Zealand society, and the impacts on the victims are massive and inter-generational, Harding said.

He believed there was a huge number of victims who had subsequently committed suicide.

Tara Shaskey joined NZME in 2022 as a news director and Open Justice reporter. She has been a reporter since 2014 and previously worked at Stuff where she covered crime and justice, arts and entertainment, and Māori issues.

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