Immigration New Zealand was left in the dark about a
former Catholic brother who fled the country while awaiting
extradition to Australia to face hundreds of sex abuse
Law enforcement agencies failed to notify Immigration about
65-year-old Bernard Kevin McGrath, who fled his Christchurch
home for Sri Lanka after being charged in June with 252 abuse
New Zealand Police and authorities in Australia have failed
today to identify where the breakdown occurred allowing
McGrath, a former brother in the St John of God order, to
leave the country.
He is alleged to have raped, molested and abused dozens of
young boys in church-run institutions in New South Wales in
the 1970s and '80s.
An Immigration New Zealand (INZ) spokeswoman today said there
was no alert on McGrath's passport to say he should not leave
She said INZ would "need to receive information from police
or another agency to put an alert on our system", and such
information had not been received.
A spokesman for New Zealand Police said a "request for
assistance" by NSW Police had been made in relation to
McGrath - but he would not say what date that was made and
what it entailed.
All other questions needed to be directed to NSW Police, the
In Australia, authorities - including NSW Police and the
federal Attorney-General's office - declined to comment.
Australian media reported today that bureaucratic delays in
McGrath's extradition may have been responsible for giving
him time to leave New Zealand.
The Sydney Morning Herald said "a NZ source" said the formal
extradition request had come to them from Interpol on
November 15, almost five months after charges were laid.
In 2006 McGrath was found guilty of 22 charges against nine
victims, and spent two years in a New Zealand jail.
He is now believed to be in Sri Lanka.