False passport used to escape to Canada - police

JODY O'CALLAGHAN, LUCY TOWNEND AND KATHRYN KING
Last updated 18:18 24/03/2013

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A New Zealand man facing abduction and sex assault charges in Canada allegedly cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and fled there under an assumed name.

New Zealand police have been hunting for Michael Edward Farley, 39, from Palmerston North, since his escape in July 2011 just before a court sentencing that would have probably have resulted in him being jailed.

Farley was arrested in Canada on Thursday, using surveillance videos and descriptions given by a 42-year-old woman who was tied up and dragged behind a van while trying to escape her captor.

It is alleged he drove into a secluded area after picking up the victim, then beat her and tied her up on March 4.

Witnesses saw her dragged behind the van after she partially freed herself and, fearing for her life, attempted to jump from the moving vehicle. She suffered serious cuts, ''road rash'' and a head injury.

She was treated in hospital and is now recovering at home.

Vancouver major crime unit Inspector Laurence Rankin told Canadian media the arrest was possible thanks to tips from the public and victim's testimony.

''This woman was brutally victimised and, if it was not for her courage, we would not be here today.''

Farley had been living illegally in Canada under the name Robert James Clarke. His brother faces charges in New Zealand for allegedly helping to obtain a false passport for him.

Michael Farley was serving a sentence of home detention on charges of receiving stolen goods and was due to be sentenced on a further charge of perverting the course of justice at the time of his escape.

Detective Sergeant David Thompson told the Manawatu Standard that his escape showed ''pre-planning''.

At the time he took off, it was a ''distinct possibility'' the outcome of his upcoming sentencing would have been jail, he said.

''It has been clear during this investigation that Farley has gone to extreme lengths to evade justice in this country. Equally, we have been determined to go to the same lengths to ensure that he faced justice.''

Canadian media report that Farley arrived there two years ago, had been working as a handyman and was in a relationship there.

His father in Palmerston North refused to comment. A woman at the family home,  believed to be his mother Doreen,  said: ''I feel sorry for the girl but I don't want to talk about it right now.''

Farley faces charges in Canada of aggravated sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault, assault, kidnapping, overcoming resistance by choking to commit a sexual assault and kidnapping, administering a noxious substance and uttering threats.

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Police in New Zealand want him to be extradited to face charges that are likely to include escaping custody, and passport-related charges.

His brother, Kevin John Farley, 42, has been charged with making a false statement by providing incorrect details on a passport application. He has not yet made a plea and will appear in the Palmerston North District Court this month.

- The Dominion Post

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