Sex-accused brother bailed

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:30 03/12/2012
Bernard McGrath
BAILED: Former Catholic brother and convicted sex offender Bernard McGrath leaves the Christchurch courthouse after being bailed.

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Former Catholic  brother and convicted sex offender Bernard Kevin McGrath has been granted bail while he considers his stance on 252 fresh sex abuse charges on which he faces extradition to Australia.

The 65-year-old was jailed in 2006 for offending against boys at Marylands School in Christchurch. He flew back to the city from Sri Lanka on Thursday and was arrested on Friday after fresh charges were laid in Australia.

The new charges allege he repeatedly raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese over several decades.

He was due to fly back to Christchurch from Sri Lanka next Saturday but he brought the flight forward.

Defence counsel Phillip Allan said McGrath had returned from Sri Lanka knowing that he would be arrested. He would have seen news reports on a New Zealand website before his return.

"Instead of staying in Sri Lanka or running, he has chosen to come back," Allan told Judge Jane Farish when McGrath appeared in Christchurch District Court today.

He said the police now had McGrath's passport and suggested he could be remanded on bail with conditions that would reduce his "flight risk". This could include regular reporting to the police.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said the Crown opposed bail being granted because of the flight risk and the seriousness of the offending.

Judge Farish wondered if he posed a flight risk because he had been "moving around quite a lot".

She said she had no problem about remanding him for two weeks so that he could consider the extradition case against him, and whether to oppose it.

Allan said: "He just wants to get everything resolved."

He said McGrath was "pretty high profile in terms of people who know what he looks like".

"He just needs to work out what he wants to do."

Judge Farish decided to allow bail, remanding McGrath to live with his sister in Christchurch. The address has not been checked by the police but McGrath had stayed there before.

Judge Farish remanded McGrath to appear at the central city Court House on December 17, and imposed strict conditions.

He is not to apply for a replacement passport, nor contact directly or indirectly any child under 16. He is not allowed to go within 100m of any primary or secondary school unless driving past, and he has to report three times a week to the Christchurch South police station.

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There was some unrest in the public gallery while McGrath was making his appearance, and Judge Farish threatened to have to seats cleared if people did not stay silent.

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