Officials apologise after high-risk paedophile on parole allowed to live near children

By RNZ

The Department of Corrections has apologised after allowing a convicted paedophile on parole to live in a central Wellington suburb near a number of children.

Aaron Paul Laurence committed 65 offences over a 12-year period, including the indecent assault of a boy under the age of 12.

He was granted parole in September this year, but his risk profile remained “on the high side”.

Corrections Regional Commissioner Paula Collins said the release address was near where children live, go to school and play.

She said the address should not have been approved.

“I apologise for any inconvenience caused to the man or his support people,” she said, but, “public safety is our top priority and having him live there posed a risk that we were not prepared to tolerate”.

“No person would be permitted to reside at an address if it was considered that their risk could not be safely managed and public safety upheld. He has now been moved to supported accommodation.”

His convictions include unlawful sexual connection, indecent assault, and possession of objectionable publications, and range from 1999 to 2011.

Laurence offended against several boys, some as young as 8, by befriending them and luring them to his home for video games.

He gave the victims rewards by way of food, cigarettes, and cannabis.

“They were then abused and the results recorded on video and promulgated. He was found to be in possession of some 31,000 objectionable images,” the decision by the Parole Board said.

Laurence was released on September 1, with parole conditions in place until late April 2024, which is the date his prison sentence was due to end.

The conditions include living at a house approved by probation, being electronically monitored, not to enter or loiter anywhere that children under 16 are congregating unless with the approval of probation, and not to enter Taranaki or Nelson without approval.

He must also attend assessments, cannot use or possess any drugs or alcohol, and must not have any electronic device capable of “accessing internet or capturing, storing, accessing or distributing images”, without probation approval.

He is also forbidden from contacting or associating with children under 16 without prior approval.

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