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Wilde delighted at guilty arson verdict

Fri 12 Dec 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Fran Wilde says she has been beating herself up for not putting the material into the National Archives Fran Wilde is happy there's been a guilty verdict over the arson which claimed irreplaceable Homosexual Law Reform documents, but says there is no sentence that can make up for what’s been lost. Angelo Dominic Bitossi, 35, has been found guilty by a High Court judge of starting the blaze at the Kiwi Self-Storage depot in Kilbirnie, Wellington, in April. Millions of dollars’ worth of possessions and treasures were lost in the fire. The judge stated the blaze was started when Bitossi became "disenchanted" with a man he'd been working for, who had a storage unit at the facility. One of the destroyed units was full of material the MP who led the Homosexual Law Reform campaign, Fran Wilde, was planning to use to write a history about it. She is delighted Bitossi has been found guilty. “This guy was responsible not only for the loss of millions in personal property but much precious memorabilia belonging to many people and of course my archival material,” she tells Daily News. Fran Wilde during the Homosexual Law Reform campaign. Image: David Hindley. “What was lost was the detail of my part of the successful campaign for gay law reform. Many of the documents were unique – for example all the correspondence I received, both pro and anti," she says, adding: “Some of the people who wrote the hate mail may be very relieved to know the record has gone!” Wilde’s diaries from the time were also lost. “Back then people still used snail mail and hard copy diaries etc so this material is not available in electronic form. Obviously I have been beating myself up a lot for not having put the important material into the National Archives.” Wilde says there is no sentence that can make up for that loss. However she will press on with a book about Homosexual Law Reform, which she had started drafting before the fire. It was intended to be a detailed book about the parliamentary campaign. “Obviously much of the source material is now gone. However I know there is still a wealth of documentary evidence available elsewhere. I would still like to write something but it may be more of a memoir than a history.” Bitossi remains in custody and will be sentenced on February 5.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 12th December 2014 - 11:44am

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