Offender professes no memory of prolonged sexual abuse

Basil Heazlewood, pictured at his sentencing in the Dunedin District Court in 2014, says he is willing to sit down and meet one of his victims. Photo: ODT files
Basil Heazlewood, pictured at his sentencing in the Dunedin District Court in 2014, says he is willing to sit down and meet one of his victims. Photo: ODT files
A sex offender's claim that he cannot remember the abuse - which took place over a 25-year period - is ''implausible'', a psychologist says.

Basil Raymond Heazlewood (78) is serving a seven-and-a-half-year prison term for offending against five victims, which started in 1961.

Since being incarcerated in 2014, the prisoner had maintained he had no memory of the extensive offending.

Heazlewood came before the Parole Board last month where he was again declined early release.

''The psychologist says that Mr Heazlewood's claim that he cannot recall any aspect of his sexual offending is implausible given his intact cognitive functioning and his ability to recall other contextual events during the same time period,'' panel convener Martha Coleman said.

''The psychologist goes on to say that his claim of such specific memory loss is a form of denial [and] says that Mr Heazlewood's unwillingness to acknowledge his historical offending is likely due to it being inconsistent with his current self-image.''

Despite that, one of his victims told the board she was ready to forgive the man who abused her.

She was now prepared to sit down for a restorative justice conference, as was Heazlewood, who said it might assist him in remembering his crimes.

Despite her readiness to forgive, the victim, along with another who spoke to the Parole Board, said they believed the man should serve his entire sentence before being released.

Parole was also denied because of the unsuitability of Heazlewood's proposed living arrangement.

It was close to areas where children congregated and the person living there saw no difficulty with grandchildren and great-grandchildren visiting the home.

At Heazlewood's sentencing, he listened to impassioned statements from his victims, in which they spoke about lives ''destroyed'' and stolen childhoods.

Judge Kevin Phillips said the man would ''have to be made of stone'' to be unmoved by such words.

Heazlewood will next come before the Parole Board in February 2020.

rob.kidd@odt.co.nz

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