Australian paedophile free in Sri Lanka

A former Catholic brother charged five months ago with hundreds of counts of sexual abuse against children and young adults is living on a tea plantation in Sri Lanka because the authorities dragged their feet in extraditing him to Australia.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, who is among the most infamous members of the disgraced St John of God order, had 252 charges laid against him in a Newcastle court on June 27.

The 65-year-old, who recently served two years in a New Zealand prison for abusing young boys, is alleged to have repeatedly raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in the Newcastle-Maitland diocese during the late 1970s and ’80s.

It is understood that a number of the charges relate to McGrath’s time as a brother at the notorious Kendall Grange College in Morrisset.

Fairfax Media revealed on Sunday that McGrath was one of three brothers being sued by Sydney’s so-called “playboy rapist” Simon Monteiro, who is serving seven years and nine months for aggravated rape and says the abuse he suffered has left him with severe psychological disorders.

Among the charges against McGrath are 30 counts of homosexual intercourse with a male aged between 10 and 18, 30 counts of homosexual intercourse between a teacher and a student aged between 10 and 18, and 102 charges of indecent assault.

NSW Police were meant to extradite McGrath back to Australia to face the charges from Christchurch where he lived since being paroled in 2008.

But Fairfax Media has learnt that he was allowed to fly out of NZ some time after the charges were lodged and is staying on a tea plantation in the highlands of Sri Lanka. That country is a haven for paedophiles, particularly the rural areas where criminals run large child-sex operations.

There is no evidence that McGrath has abused any children in Sri Lanka.

McGrath’s NZ brother, Clem, said the accused man had flown out of Christchurch in “early winter” after a friend had asked him, “Why don’t you come to Sri Lanka? You’ve got nothing here.”

Neither NSW Police nor the office of the federal Minister for Home Affairs and Justice, Jason Clare, would say when the process of extraditing McGrath began when asked on Sunday.

“NSW Police will not comment in relation to this investigation as speculation may jeopardise current lines of inquiry,” a police spokesman said.

But a NZ source told Fairfax Media that the formal extradition request had only come to them from Interpol on November 15 – nearly five months after the charges were laid.

It is understood that the extradition may have been delayed by bureaucracy.

It is not known whether Sri Lankan authorities have been informed of McGrath’s presence.

Australia does not have an extradition treaty with Sri Lanka directly. However it can extradite suspects from Sri Lanka under the London Scheme which enables Commonwealth countries to extradite criminals to each other.

Fairfax Media understands that Australian Federal Police based in Sri Lanka have been made aware of McGrath’s presence.

In 1974 Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath was transferred to NZ to be teacher and dormitory master at Marylands, a SJOG boarding school near Christchurch for boys with learning and behavioural difficulties.

In 1993 he was sentenced to three years’ jail in NZ for his offences at Marylands and the Hebron Trust, a learning centre for street kids. In 2002 more complainants contacted the NZ police concerning sexual assaults by McGrath culminating in his conviction in 2006 on 22 counts of abuse. (Sydney Morning Herald)