A former Catholic brother facing hundreds of counts of sexual abuse in Australia has fled from New Zealand to Sri Lanka, after delays in the extradition process.

Former St John of God brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who spent two years in jail for sexually abusing children in New Zealand, had 252 abuse charges laid against him in a Newcastle court in June, Fairfax Media reports.

He is alleged to have raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at church-run institutions in New South Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

New South Wales police were to extradite McGrath to Australia from Christchurch where he was living. However Fairfax Media reported he was able to leave New Zealand after the charges were lodged, and is believed to staying on a tea plantation in the highlands of Sri Lanka.


It is reported the delay in extraditing McGrath was due to the many levels of bureaucracy involved in the extradition process.

Australia does not have an extradition treaty with Sri Lanka.

New Zealand police told Fairfax the formal extradition request only came through from Interpol on November 15, almost five months after the charges were laid. By this time McGrath had already left the country.

In 2006, Bernard Kevin McGrath was found guilty of 22 charges against nine victims aged 7 to 15 and was sentenced to five years in jail.

McGrath was released on parole in February 2008, less than two years into his five-year term.

- nzherald.co.nz