Peter Maxwell Stewart
NZ Herald story 22nd December 2007
Peter Maxwell Stewart lived a life most people would envy. He is the son of Canterbury industrialist Sir Robertson Stewart, and his family's multimillion-dollar fortune, made in plastics and electrics, gave him a springboard for business success that ensured a luxurious life of beautiful homes, expensive yachts and cars, and mixing in high society circles. His family made $97 million from the sale of its company, PDL, but Stewart had become a successful deer farmer on an expansive Canterbury property, ran a luxury yacht charter company in Picton, indulged his love for motor racing and married model Pieter Stewart, who would become the founder of Fashion Week and mother of his four children.
Yet for all he had, it seems Stewart had a sordid weakness that would become his downfall. The 62-year-old is facing the distinct lack of luxury of a prison cell after a jury this month found him guilty of raping, sodomising and violating a girl from the age of 8. The acts occurred between 30 and 40 years ago, in various places around the South Island while he was married to Pieter, who continues to stand by her husband. Mrs Stewart also knew the victim and said she never saw any sign of abuse, but prosecutor Phil Shamy said she never picked it up "because she was never looking for it". Stewart was driven by lust and an urge to control, and took risks by abusing his victim even when others were around, Mr Shamy said.
His victim had been manipulated to the stage where she was infatuated with Stewart, but there was a "significant power imbalance when you have a man that was 14 years older". The abuse convictions are a devastating blow for the Stewart family, which has had their reputation damaged by the convictions and intense publicity that has followed. Dressed in an expensive suit, Stewart shook and looked dazed as the guilty verdicts were delivered by the jury in the High Court in Christchurch. At least one of several family members in the public gallery broke down and cried. His defence that his victim was a fantasist, a liar and a blackmailer had failed.
Stewart has maintained his innocence, admitting only to consensual sex with the victim once, when she was 17, and is likely to appeal against the convictions. In his evidence, Stewart described the incident in which he had sex with the victim on board his boat after a fishing trip. He described her "horsing about in a brief white bikini" and "making overtures to me". "At that point I made probably the biggest mistake of my life and we had sex. I knew this was bad news and it never happened again." When his victim first made allegations of abuse about 27 years later that filtered back to his wife, Stewart was forced to admit to his single indiscretion.
"She called me a disgusting bastard. It was the first time I had told anyone about it. We had been married for 35 years and it was a horrendous situation." Sensing he would lose his marriage, children and the businesses he and his wife had created together, he left the family home. He later returned and his marriage remained intact, but worse was to come for him. After negotiation between lawyers for his victim and his own family, Stewart's stepmother, Lady Adrienne Stewart, offered the victim a home in a top Christchurch suburb. But the offer was turned down and instead the allegations went to court. Stewart is free on bail to spend time with his family over Christmas, but faces the likelihood of jail when he is sentenced in February.
From the Press Wednesday 22nd October 2008
Millionaire convicted rapist Peter Stewart has had his appeal against conviction turned down.Stewart was jailed this year for three-and-a-half years on five charges of indecency with a girl under 12, one count of sodomy and one of rape. His trial was held in December last year.
Stewart's lawyer, Paul Davison, QC, told the Appeal Court in Wellington in July that trial judge Justice Graham Panckhurst had wrongly directed the jury and made errors in his summing up. The Court of Appeal ruled that such errors as had been shown were not material and had not caused a miscarriage of justice. Stewart, 62, the son of electrical goods tycoon Sir Robertson Stewart, was sentenced earlier this year. The offences took place between 1967 and 1978 and started when his victim was aged eight and Stewart was 22.
The judge also raised the question of whether a reparation report would be appropriate. Mr Shamy said he would check with the victim about that before it was prepared. The report would clear the way for a payment for emotional harm from Stewart to the victim.
Such a payment was discussed between lawyers as a civil claim in 2004 and 2005 before she made her formal complaint to the police. The woman told the court she dropped the claim when she heard allegations that she was only doing it because she wanted a house and money. That was unfair, she told the court. She only wanted the truth.
The Press, Christchurch, 19th December 2007
A prominent Canterbury businessman convicted of rape can now be named as Peter Maxwell Stewart, 62, of Hororata. Name supression was lifted this morning. Earlier this month a jury in the High Court at Christchurch found Stewart guilty of one charge of sodomy, one of rape, three of indecent assault and two of inducing an indecent act. The charges arose from sexual abuse said to have occurred between 30 and 40 years ago.Stewart was to be sentenced today but that has been delayed to February 12, mainly because a pre-sentence report has not yet been completed,
Justice Graham Panckhurst was set to consider a bid for continued name suppression when Stewart's counsel, Jonathan Eaton, said it seemed Stewart's name as the "prominent Canterbury businessman'' was so widely known in Christchurch that suppression was no longer sought.
Reasons advanced earlier that lifting suppression would affect the business interests of other family members had been addressed in recent days. "I have clear instructions not to seek a final order for suppression of name and invite Your Honour to lift the order," he said. Stewart is a member of a well-known Canterbury family with business interests as a farmer, company director, and charter boat operator.
During the trial the jury heard that Stewart manipulated the complainant to masturbate him and perform other indecencies on him in the late 1960s when she was under 12. The Crown said the complainant had been in love with the dashing young man who drove fast cars and who was kind to her, and he had exploited that to turn her into the "perfect victim". The jury found Stewart sodomised the complainant behind Christchurch International Airport when she was aged between 10 and 13 and raped her in 1974 on his marital bed, where she lay with an inflatable splint after breaking her ankle in a skiing mishap.
Stewart admitted one act of sexual intercourse with the complainant that he said occurred on his boat when she was 17. Wearing a white bikini, she had come on to him and "it just happened", he said. The defence argued the complainant had always been envious of the accused's wife and had repackaged her childhood sexual fantasies into sexual attacks to pressure the accused to bail her out of financial trouble. That had backfired when negotiations ended and she was locked into the fabrications. Stewart's care and kindness had been repaid with allegations "fuelled by envy and motivated by money", the defence said.
Date of Birth
1945 (D.O.B. is approximate)
Three Strikes Status
Sentenced to 3 years 6 months in February 2008
Paroled May 2009
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links Peter Maxwell Stewart Sentencing Notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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