7 Sep 2012

Interpol alert over accused sex offender

12:17 pm on 7 September 2012

An Interpol alert has been issued for a New Zealand man accused of sexually assaulting children.

Christopher Michael David Peppiatt was due to stand trial in Auckland District Court in January.

However he had had fled to the Cook Islands late last year, arriving in Rarotonga on a yacht in December.

Cook Islands police told Radio New Zealand his arrival immediately sparked concern because he had no paperwork, no passport, and avoided most of their questions. He told local authorities his name was Gavin Maitland.

Mr Peppiatt set sail again the next day. His abandoned boat was found floating off the coast of Rarotonga in January.

Cook Islands police say they have no indication whether Mr Peppiatt is alive or dead, so are now treating their investigation as a missing persons case.

They say they and New Zealand police have asked Interpol to issue a red alert, which requests immediate extradition if he is located, because Mr Peppiatt faced more than 20 serious charges.