Bernard Kevin McGrath
Was living in Christchurch, but had gone to Sri Lanka some time later
Since back in NZ and was granted bail in Christchurch
To be extradited to Australia soon
NZ Media and Entertainment story 17th December 2014
A decision by the New Zealand Government to extradite a former Catholic brother to Australia to face child-sex abuse charges has been backed by a High Court judge. In a decision out today, Justice Cameron Mander has concluded that former Justice Minister Judith Collins made no error in deciding to extradite Bernard Kevin McGrath, 66, to stand trial on 250 charges of sexual offending. An application to review the decision has been declined. After several hearings at district and high court jurisdictions, it was left up to Ms Collins earlier this year to make a final decision on whether McGrath be extradited to Australia.
In August, after "careful consideration", Ms Collins issued an order for his surrender across the Tasman. But earlier this month, McGrath challenged Ms Collins' "totally unreasonable" decision through a judicial review hearing in the High Court at Christchurch. His lawyer Phillip Allan said the minister had come to some wrong conclusions in her judgement and raised allegations of bias. He called for his case to be referred to new Minister of Justice Amy Adams. But Justice Mander rejected McGrath's arguments. In his judgement, he found the minister was right to trust the Australian criminal justice system to ensure McGrath's rights and those of a fair trial.
"Unsurprisingly, the minister was able to express a level of comfort that there were necessary safeguards in place to ensure that Mr McGrath would be subject to a fair and proper trial process in Australia," Justice Mander said. Ms Collins accepted that Mr McGrath was not a young man, but concluded there was no evidence that he was of poor health or that it would impact on his ability to defend himself. She did not think the issues constituted compelling or extraordinary circumstances which would have made it unjust or oppressive for Mr McGrath to be surrendered to Australia. "On review, I have not been brought to the position where I can conclude that the minister's decision was one that was not reasonably available to her," the judge said.
McGrath's lawyer Mr Allan said today he had not yet had a chance to speak with his client. He refused to comment until he had talked to McGrath. NZME. News Service understands that McGrath could potentially take his case to the Court of Appeal. If no appeal is lodged, Interpol, via New Zealand police, will enact the extradition order on behalf of the Australian authorities. The Ministry of Justice today referred enquiries to police. A police spokesman refused to release details of when they may swoop on McGrath and put him on a plane to Australia. "We will continue to play our part in facilitating the request following the decision from the court," he said.
NZ Herald story 28th April 2006
Bernard Kevin McGrath's five-year jail term for sexually abusing boys at Marylands School in the 1970s brought an angry reaction from people packing out the High Court in Christchurch where he was sentenced yesterday. "Die, you ... priest," said one man. "What a waste of time," said another as McGrath was led away to the cells. There was a more measured response on the steps of the courthouse. A man who had been at Marylands and knew the nine men McGrath had abused, said: "I'm not too impressed. This sentence is not going to bring closure for the boys." The manager of the Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust, Ken Clearwater, said he was in shock.
"Five years is a joke. For what that man's done, it's an insult to the victims. I know there will be a lot of men hurting out there at the moment. I hope they have supports in place to help them get through this." In setting the sentence, Justice Lester Chisholm had to take into account two earlier prison terms - three years in Christchurch in 1993 and nine months in Sydney later - that McGrath received for similar offending. But he told the 58-year-old Catholic brother that he was sceptical of his claims of remorse and noted that McGrath had received a two-year "discount" on his 1993 sentence for his full and frank admissions of guilt.
With the 21 guilty verdicts in a four-week trial that ended in Christchurch last month, and one guilty plea by McGrath as the trial began, it was now clear that he had not made full admissions in 1993. McGrath was being sentenced on 13 charges of indecent assault, eight charges of inducing an indecent act, and one charge of doing an indecent act. The offending related to nine victims at Marylands School where McGrath was a brother, teacher and housemaster. The victims were aged between 7 and 15 at the time. Some of the convictions were for representative charges that indicated the offending continued over a period. In one case this covered his whole three years and 10 months at the school.
"You were there to be their protector. In truth you were their abuser," said Justice Chisholm. "They had nowhere to turn, no one to go to. It is no wonder they reacted in such a distressing way when they gave evidence." Since the offending, McGrath has attended a sex offenders' course in the United States and the Kia Marama programme in New Zealand. He had voluntarily surrendered to the authorities. "I don't think you should ever be placed, or allow yourself to be placed, in the situation where you are with young people," said Justice Chisholm. Crown prosecutor Kerryn Beaton said McGrath's sexual abuse had been marked by violence, threats and sometimes cruelty.
Defence lawyer Raoul Neave said the regime at the school at the time had been for severe physical punishment to be meted out to maintain discipline, but he pointed out the jury had accepted that there had been exaggeration of some of the claims. The jury had found McGrath not guilty on 22 charges, and 10 more were withdrawn or ruled out by the judge during the trial. Mr Neave said McGrath's prison term would probably not be able to be served in Christchurch because of safety concerns. He would probably be sent to the North Island, away from his family support. McGrath took ill twice during the trial. He appeared frail yesterday and sat with his head bowed in the dock while legal argument about his sentence took place. He stood when Justice Chisholm handed down the sentence.
Date of Birth
Australia (remanded in custody)
Was sentenced to 5 years in April 2006
Released February 2008Awaiting details of latest sentence in Australia
Additional Photos & Files
Associated Media Links bernard-kevin-mcgrath-sentencing-notes
OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
|Event Date||Event||Court Location||Offence Type||Offence Date||Committed While||Sentence Imposed|
|24-04-2006||Appeal hearing Date is approx||High Court Christchurch||Indecent assault on a boy under the age of 16 years old||1975||5 Years, Imprisonment||▼|