Sex accused flees Sri Lanka

Monday, 3 December 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Age: Bernard McGrath, the Australian paedophile wanted on more than 250 child sex charges, has beaten law enforcement agencies again, fleeing Sri Lanka last week.

McGrath, wanted since June, was reportedly living on a tea plantation in the Sri Lankan midlands, having skipped out of New Zealand ahead of an order for his extradition to Australia.

The Controller-General at Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration, Chulananda Perera, confirmed to Fairfax Media on Sunday that McGrath had fled the country: “Yes, he has left Sri Lanka. He is gone this [past] week.”

It is understood McGrath took an overnight flight to Singapore late last week.

Law-enforcement agencies were not aware he had left the country, as there had been no formal Interpol warrant issued for his arrest. However, it is understood the Criminal Investigation Department had begun a search for him last week, and the Chairman of Sri Lanka’s National Child Protection Authority Anoma Dissanayake said she had alerted the Immigration Department to McGrath’s presence in the country. The 65-year-old McGrath is alleged to have repeatedly raped, molested, and abused dozens of young boys at Church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese over several decades.

In 2006, he was jailed for two years in New Zealand for sexually abusing young boys there.

Paroled in 2008, he was living in Christchurch until this year.

On 27 June, a court in Newcastle laid 252 abuse charges against him, dating to the 1970s. McGrath faces 30 counts of homosexual intercourse with a male between the age of 10 and 18, 30 counts of homosexual intercourse between a teacher and a student aged between 10 and 18, and 102 charges of indecent assault.

It is understood a number of the charges relate to McGrath’s time as a brother at the notorious Kendall Grange College in Morisset, New South Wales.

NSW police were to seek McGrath’s extradition from New Zealand. But he was allowed to fly out of that country, even after the charges were laid against him in Australia, a New Zealand police source saying the formal extradition request from Interpol was delayed five months.

The order to arrest McGrath arrived with New Zealand Police only on 15 November, months after McGrath allegedly left the country. Sri Lanka is a known haven for paedophiles, particularly outside of its major cities, and organised child-sex rings are known to operate throughout the country.

McGrath’s current whereabouts are unknown.