Former priest to fight extradition on sex charges

Last updated 10:54 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 he will fight extradition to Australia on 252 fresh charges.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, a former priest at Marylands School in Christchurch, 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 has 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 considers what to do about the extradition bid.

He made a remand appearance in the Christchurch District Court today 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 then 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 on continued bail for that court appearance.

He was critical of the media for pursuing 65-year-old 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 and proper way.

He was concerned when Allan said the scene outside the Court House 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," said Judge Saunders.

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

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