Shock over stalker’s placement

Jeremy Fraser Buis.
Jeremy Fraser Buis.
A Dunedin businessman is stunned the man who stalked him for two and a-half years tried to arrange a community-work placement through a family member.

Jeremy Fraser Buis (39) was sentenced to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay the victim, Danny Pryde, $15,000 after being found guilty of criminal harassment, intentional damage and threatening to do gross bodily harm, before the Dunedin District Court last week.

The case made headlines after the public servant subjected his victim to a torrent of homosexual-themed abuse.

Defence counsel Anne Stevens told the court an agency placement had been found with Age Concern Otago and Judge Paul Kellar said it seemed "entirely appropriate".

But it emerged this week that the offer by the organisation to take Buis was initiated by his de-facto brother-in-law Rob Aitken — a board member of Age Concern.

He told the Otago Daily Times last week that he was confident the convicted stalker — whose occupation was suppressed — was someone of "good character".

Yesterday he said he did not disclose the familial link to the ODT because he did not think it was significant.But Corrections, which is responsible for administering community-work sentences, called it a "conflict of interest".

District manager Raymond Clark initially said a placement for Buis had not yet been finalised before later confirming Age Concern had been ruled out.

He said the 39-year-old had made the family link clear in initial discussions with Corrections.

"Staff are working closely with Mr Buis to ensure the safety of both him and the public, regarding an appropriate community-work placement," Mr Clark said.

Mr Pryde, who suffered ‘‘a living hell’’ at the hands of the defendant, said he was shocked at what he saw as another manipulation.

"He’s obviously tried to make the sentence as light as possible for himself," he said.

"It’s amazing."

The bizarre campaign of stalking was prompted by an episode on June 14, 2012, when Buis parked his car in front of the rear driveway to Pryde Engineering in Ward St, and his vehicle was then ticketed.

Buis’ rage over the incident led to anonymous text messages, progressed to the defendant leaving the victim’s contact details at a notorious gay hangout and later he set up a fake homosexual internet dating profile using Mr Pryde’s photo from his work website.

There was also graffiti around Dunedin bearing the victim’s name.

Mr Pryde said some of it was still there and he believed Buis should spend his community work cleaning that up.

Mr Aitken said he was up front with Age Concern about providing a placement for his brother-in-law and just wanted to help someone he knew "really well".

"I was 100% certain it was a genuine comment from Jeremy he wanted to do something useful and helpful," he said.

"I don’t see necessarily a conflict of interest," Mr Aitken said.

Mr Aitken said he was involved in the strategic side of the organisation and would not have had contact with Buis.

Age Concern chief executive Stephanie Clare said the organisation accepted many offenders on community work placements and each regional office operated autonomously.

Mr Pryde voluntarily lifted his own name suppression at Buis’ sentencing because he did not want other Dunedin businessmen to be put in the spotlight.

He felt his decision had been vindicated over the past week.

"I’ve found a bit of peace in discussing [the case]," he said.


Community work

• Most offenders sentenced to community work participate in group tasks supervised by Community Probation staff.

• Some offenders may be deemed suitable to complete their hours individually at an "agency placement".

• Corrections takes into account the offending, an offender’s history, their physical location and their skills when considering an agency placement.

Conflicts of interest and the safety of the community are also reviewed as part of the decision-making process.

• Probation officers regularly check in with each agency to review an offender’s progress.

• Agencies include: local councils, schools, voluntary organisations and sports groups.