26 Oct 2004

Former Pitcairn Islander defends customs on island following convictions of six for sex crimes

4:33 pm on 26 October 2004

A former Pitcairn Islander has defended customs on the remote island community which led to the recent trials of seven men.

Yesterday five islanders were found guilty of sex abuse offences, including the rape and indecent assault of girls as young as 12.

A sixth man had already pleaded guilty and a seventh was found not guilty.

Reeve Cooze, who used to live on Pitcairn says the men involved have suffered a gross miscarriage of justice.

He says there is a long tradition of relationships between children and the island's men, stemming from a need to boost the population.

"that has carried down right from that point to this day and that is where the people in the outside world just do not understand. It was no attachment, it was a bit of pleasure, it bit of growing up, a bit of feeling your way"

Former Pitcairn Islander, Reeve Cooze.