Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Accused fraudster wins extradition appeal on health grounds

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

A New Zealander facing extradition to Australia to face A$2 million fraud charges has won an appeal against the decision on health grounds.

Martin James Mailley was charged by Queensland Police after allegations that between 1999 and 2002 he received welfare benefits while living on fraudulently obtained credit cards.

But in 2005 after he had been committed to stand trial, it is alleged Mailley breached bail and returned to his homeland.

A Queensland court issued a warrant for his arrest, and police liaised with colleagues in New Zealand. Mailley was eventually traced and arrested in July 2008, when extradition proceedings were launched.

In September 2009, district court judge Graham Hubble rejected an argument that the Commonwealth of Australia should have brought the extradition case, and not New Zealand Police.

Mailley appealed the decision to the High Court, but Justice Rebecca Ellis backed the earlier decision and the appeal was thrown out.

Now, in a new ruling, the Court of Appeal has quashed the earlier extradition decisions.

Appeal judges ruled that the extradition case should have been brought by the Commonwealth of Australia, and not New Zealand Police, because of the "nation to nation nature" of the extradition process.

The error was deemed a "procedural technicality" rather than resulting in Mailley suffering any prejudice.

Previous decisions also failed to take into account Mailley's mental health problems and the fact he also suffers from heart disease.

Medical reports showed that Mailley has attempted suicide on several occasions, while he also suffered from bipolar disorder and post concussion syndrome arising from head injuries.

One doctor wrote: "It is my opinion, therefore, that there is a very real likelihood of Mr Mailley committing suicide either to avoid being returned to Australia, or after being returned there."

But while the appeal judges concluded that the reports were "overstated", with only one documented suicide attempt having arisen from an argument with his partner, not the extradition hearing, they concluded, "We agree it would be unjust for Mr Mailley to be extradited" without his health matters having been given proper consideration.

The case has now been sent back to the district court for a judge to consider whether it should be referred to the Minister of Justice because of Mailley's health.

- APNZ

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