McGrath escapes the net yet again

uit de Sydney Morning Herald / 2-12-1012

BERNARD McGRATH, the Australian paedophile wanted by a NSW court on more than 250 child sex charges, has again escaped law enforcement agencies, fleeing Sri Lanka this week.

McGrath, wanted since June, was reportedly living on a tea plantation in the highlands of Sri Lanka, having skipped out of New Zealand ahead of an order for his extradition to Australia.

The controller general at Sri Lanka’s Department of Immigration and Emigration, Chulananda Perera, confirmed on Sunday that McGrath had fled the country.

It is understood McGrath took an overnight Singapore Airlines flight to Singapore late last week.

Law enforcement agencies were not immediately aware he had left the country, as there had been no formal Interpol warrant issued for his arrest.

However, it is believed the Criminal Investigation Department had begun a search for him this week and the chairman of Sri Lanka’s National Child Protection Authority, Anoma Dissanayake, said she had alerted the immigration department to McGrath’s presence in the country.

McGrath, 65, is alleged to have repeatedly raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese during several decades.

In 2006, he was jailed for two years in New Zealand for sexually abusing young boys there.

Paroled in 2008, he was living in Christchurch until this year. Then on June 27, a court in Newcastle laid 252 abuse charges against him, dating back to the 1970s.

McGrath faces 30 counts of homosexual intercourse with a male between the age of 10 and 18, 30 counts of homosexual intercourse between a teacher and a student aged between 10 and 18, and 102 charges of indecent assault.

It is understood a number of the charges relate to McGrath’s time as a brother at Kendall Grange College in Morisset.

NSW police were planning to seek McGrath’s extradition from New Zealand. But he was allowed to fly out of that country, even after the charges were laid against him in Australia.

A New Zealand police source said the formal extradition request from Interpol was delayed five months and the order to arrest McGrath only arrived with New Zealand police on November 15, months after McGrath allegedly left the country.

Sri Lanka is a known haven for paedophiles, particularly outside of its main cities, and organised child-sex rings are known to operate across the whole country.

McGrath’s current whereabouts is unknown.