Former brother leaves NZ after abuse charges laid

A former St John of God brother who was jailed in New Zealand for sexual abuse has now moved to Sri Lanka after Australian authorities laid hundreds of new charges against him.

Fairfax Media in Australia reported that Bernard Kevin McGrath flew out of Christchurch a few months ago, some time after 252 abuse charges were laid in a Newcastle court on June 27.

The charges relate to the 65-year-old McGrath’s time at Church-run institutions in Newcastle-Maitland diocese during the late in 1970s and 1980s.

New South Wales police intended to extradite McGrath from Christchurch, where he had lived since being paroled in 2008. But a New Zealand police source said the formal extradition request did not arrive until November 15.

A Fairfax Media report said McGrath is now living on a tea plantation in the highlands of Sri Lanka.

The report said Sri Lanka is a known haven for paedophiles, particularly in its rural areas where criminals run large, organised child-sex operations. It quoted the online Factbook on Global Exploitation as saying that 10,000 to 12,000 children from rural areas in Sri Lanka are trafficked and prostituted to paedophiles by organised crime groups every year.

Although Australia does not have a direct extradition treaty with Sri Lanka, it can extradite suspects from there under the London Scheme, which enables Commonwealth countries to extradite fugitive criminals to each other upon the presentation of prima face evidence.

McGrath was a teacher and dormitory master at Marylands, a St John of God boarding school near Christchurch for boys with learning and behavioural difficulties.

In 1993 he was sentenced to three years’ jail for offences at Marylands and the Hebron Trust, a learning centre for street kids.

In 2002, more complainants contacted New Zealand police concerning sexual assaults by McGrath, culminating in his conviction in 2006 on 22 abuse charges.


The Age

Image: NDJ World

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