Lawyers for alleged British paedophile Nigel Lee Tucker‚ who was arrested in Cape Town last week‚ asked on Thursday for his immediate release because indecent assault is no longer a punishable offence in South Africa.
Police arrested Tucker‚ 52‚ on behalf of United Kingdom authorities‚ in Cape Town after 15 years on the run. He is facing 42 counts of indecent assault in his home country and authorities there want him extradited.
The crimes were allegedly committed between 1983 and 1993. Tucker appeared on Thursday in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court‚ where legal points were heard ahead of his bail application.
Tucker’s counsel‚ Reuben Liddell‚ urged the court to release him immediately because indecent assault is no longer punishable in South Africa‚ the offences are not extraditable transgressions and he cannot be prosecuted under South African law because the offences were allegedly committed more than 20 years ago.
“As I said‚ the matter should end here. We should be walking out‚” said Liddell.
“My client should be allowed to go home. I am going to hand in two expired passports … to show that my client arrived in this country as Nigel Lee Tucker in the year 2000. He has obtained visas in his own name‚ initially a tourist visa and eventually a permanent spouse visa‚ which show that he did not hide anything.”
Liddell said Tucker trained as a helicopter pilot in 2006 and obtained his licence in 2008. He had applied for a police clearance‚ which he received a day before his arrest.
“He is not a flight risk‚” Liddell said. “He has lived in one place since 2003. He bought a house with his father and also had a bond with Absa. He registered a company in his name.”
British court papers tabled in Cape Town on Thursday said Tucker absconded between the time he gave evidence at his Bristol Crown Court trial in 2000 and the jury's retirement. He was convicted in his absence of nine offences of indecency with young males and one count of administering a stupefying drug.
The court sentenced him to eight years’ imprisonment and compelled him to “register with police indefinitely” under the Sex Offenders Act.
He took the matter on appeal‚ the decision was overturned and a retrial was ordered but did not take place because he had fled the country.
Magistrate Grant Engel postponed the matter until April 7. Tucker has been remanded in custody at the Sea Point police station.
– TMG Digital/The Times