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Accused human trafficker lived in NZ

Last updated 05:00 30/10/2012

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A man with a history of sexual offending who is now accused of child rape and human trafficking in the Philippines had been living freely in Timaru earlier this year.

David William Wakefield was arrested as he checked out of his hotel room in Davao, Philippines, last week.

He is accused of raping two girls, aged 12 and 13, last week, and also of violating human trafficking laws.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry is following up the matter with local authorities through its Manila embassy.

Mr Wakefield was previously convicted of sexual abuse of a girl, 7, in Darwin between late 1996 and early 1998, and sexual grooming of a girl, aged 11, in 2007.

Mid-South Canterbury area commander Inspector Dave Gaskin confirmed yesterday police were notified by Australian authorities when Mr Wakefield returned to the country following his release this year.

However, police could not take any action.

"Once released from prison overseas there is no possibility or option to follow up on release conditions.

"If he had release conditions in Australia, they don't apply here."

He said, "of course . . . offending of that nature was concerning", however he would not comment on the merits of regulations governing the situation.

"It's not the first time somebody's been released from prison in Australia [and come to New Zealand], and it won't be the last."

However, similar cases were very rare in the district.

On the "positive side", Mr Wakefield had not offended while in Timaru, he said.

He was in Timaru for "a period of time" and had subsequently moved on.

A New Zealand police spokesperson said Mr Wakefield was extradited to Australia from New Zealand in 2008 after a request from the Australian federal police.

"He was subsequently convicted in Australia of that offending.

"New Zealand police were notified by the Australian authorities about his deportation back to New Zealand on [February 2] 2012, including the nature of his convictions in Australia."

He was not wanted on any matters in New Zealand, and left the country again shortly afterwards.

"New Zealand police have been liaising through Interpol with Philippine authorities about his background."

Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar said the issue of offenders coming to New Zealand was becoming "more and more of a problem".

"It's not a rare occurrence at all.

"Public safety . . . is actually essential. We don't want offenders being [freely] released back into the country."

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- The Timaru Herald

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