3 Dec 2012

Former Catholic brother in NZ court over sex charges

9:22 pm on 3 December 2012

Former Catholic brother and convicted sex offender Bernard Kevin McGrath has appeared in Christchurch District Court on charges over a warrant for his extradition to Australia.

Mr McGrath has already served prison time in New Zealand and is facing 252 charges of sexual abuse laid in a court in Newcastle, New South Wales.

He was a St John of God brother when he abused boys in Christchurch, for which he spent two terms in prison, released most recently in 2008.

In October this year Australian police asked their New Zealand counterparts to help extradite him, but he left the country before the new charges could be laid.

A police headquarters spokesperson confirmed Mr McGrath had been arrested in Christchurch on Friday night after flying back from Sri Lanka and appeared in court on Monday.

Mr McGrath was remanded on bail and will reappear on 17 December. The Crown opposed bail.

He gave no indication if he will consent to being extradited.

Mr McGrath's victims in New Zealand are afraid they will run into him while he's out on bail.

A spokesperson for the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, Ken Clearwater, says some of the victims have been re-traumatised by the latest events.

Mr Clearwater told Checkpoint one victim accidentally bumped into Mr McGrath in the past.

Many of the Australian boys the brother is also accused of abusing were orphans at church-run institutions.

But a volunteer researcher for the Australian victim support group Broken Rites, Dr Bernard Barrett, says no bishops or church leaders responsible for boys' safety in Australia or New Zealand have been held to account.