McGrath to fight extradition on sex charges

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 10:37 17/12/2012
Bernard McGrath
BAILED: Former Catholic brother and convicted sex offender Bernard McGrath leaves the Christchurch courthouse after being bailed.

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Nearly three weeks after his return to New Zealand, a former Catholic brother and convicted sex offender has decided to fight extradition to Australia on 252 fresh charges.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, a former brother of the order of St John of God, has already served prison time in New Zealand for offending against boys.

He was in Sri Lanka last month when the Australian police laid charges alleging he repeatedly raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese over several decades.

He returned voluntarily to New Zealand and was arrested the next day on the Australian charges.

When he made his court appearance on December 3, bail was granted for him to live with his sister in Christchurch while he considered what to do about the extradition bid.

He made a remand appearance today in the Christchurch District Court, where defence counsel Phillip Allan said he had just filed a notice of opposition to the extradition application.

Paperwork opposing the extradition must be filed by January 21, and the case will be called again in court on January 28 for a date to be set for the hearing.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh said that could involve witnesses being sent to New Zealand by the applicant, the Commonwealth of Australia.

Judge David Saunders remanded McGrath, 65, on continued bail.

He was critical of the media for pursuing McGrath down the street after his court appearance two weeks ago and said he had given permission for in-court filming today so that the matter could be dealt with in a dignified way.

He was concerned when Allan said the scene outside the courthouse had been even worse today.

"It is not proper for this man or any others to be chased along the street with cameras and microphones being thrust in their face," Judge Saunders said.

"I would hope these comments have been taken on board."

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