Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

Former Catholic brother arrested after returning to NZ

Bernard Kevin McGrath. Photo / File photo
Bernard Kevin McGrath. Photo / File photo

A former Catholic brother and convicted paedophile has been arrested in Christchurch after returning to New Zealand from Sri Lanka.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, a former St John of God brother, faces extradition to Australia on 252 sexual abuse charges.

In 2006, he was jailed for five years for sexually abusing boys at Marylands School in Christchurch in the 1970s, and was paroled in 2008.

McGrath fled New Zealand to Sri Lanka earlier this year and was reportedly living on a tea plantation in the highlands.

Now, Australian police want him extradited from New Zealand to face the new charges of abusing, molesting and raping boys and young adults at church-run institutions in New South Wales over several decades.

The 65-year old voluntarily left Sri Lanka last week and arrived at Christchurch International Airport on Friday.

He was allowed through immigration before being arrested in the city a few hours later.

After spending a weekend in police cells, McGrath appeared from custody at Christchurch District Court today.

Crown prosecutor Mark Zarifeh opposed bail, citing the seriousness of the alleged offending and that he was a possible flight risk.

But Judge Jane Farish did not agree he would take flight, especially since he had returned to New Zealand voluntarily, knowing he would face arrest.

She granted bail on strict conditions that he reside at his sister's residence in
Christchurch, report to a police station three times a week, has no contact with children, and does not go within 100 metres of any primary or secondary school.

His passport had already been surrendered and he can not apply for a new one.

Judge Farish remanded him until December 17 which will allow him time to study the new charges.

At his next hearing at Christchurch courthouse, McGrath will either accept extradition or oppose the application.

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