19 Dec 2018

Man accused of abusing step-sister won't be extradited

3:50 pm on 19 December 2018

The Court of Appeal has stopped a man from being extradited to Australia to face sexual abuse charges.

09082016. Photo Rebekah Parsons-King. Pike River families want mine's CEO to face charges. Court of Appeal Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The 23 year old New Zealand citizen was accused of abusing his step-sister in New South Wales when he was 14 years old and she was 11.

At the time, the complainants family decided not to prosecute and instead sent the teenager to a youth refuge for counselling and treatment.

After a few months there at the end of 2010, his father took the teenager to New Zealand to visit his mother, where he then stayed at her behest.

In February 2011, the complainants family asked the Australian police to proceed against the teenager.

Australian authorities first issued an arrest warrant and extradition notice in 2011, but due to their own delays, the man wasn't served with papers until five years later in 2016.

Earlier courts found that that the man was eligible for extradition but he appealed this, claiming it would be unduly oppressive for him to return to Australia, where he no longer has family or friends.

The Court of Appeal agreed, taking into account the delays and that it was his mother's decision to keep him in New Zealand as a teenager, not his own.

It also found that it would be unfair for him to be tried as an adult, when the alleged offending occurred as a child.

"Had he been dealt with then, his chances of avoiding a custodial outcome would have been better than now," the court said.

Since leaving Australia, the man had finished studies, established a career, gone on to form a long-term relationship and had a support network around him.

If he were to move back to Australia the "relationships and career he has developed as he has moved from childhood to adulthood will be materially disrupted, if not destroyed", the court said.

The court said the "high threshold" had been crossed and the man had satisfied them that it is a rare case where surrender to Australia should be restricted.