Alleged British paedophile still fighting extradition
In court on Tuesday alleged British paedophile Lee Nigel Tucker was supposed to answer allegations that he is delaying his extradition trial - but managed to delay proceedings again.
Tucker sacked top criminal attorney Joseph Webber and appointed a new lawyer at the 11th hour. Webber only found out that he had been fired when Tucker's new attorney called him on Friday.
State advocate Christopher Burke told the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court that this was another example of Tucker’s “delay tactics”.
The helicopter pilot and IT specialist was arrested in Cape Town during a sting operation by police last year on behalf of British authorities.
He faced 42 sexual misconduct charges involving mainly boys between 1983 and 1993.
In 2000 he was convicted on nine charges in the Bristol Crown Court‚ but fled to South Africa a day before he was found guilty.
In his absence he was sentenced to eight years in prison but managed to appeal the conviction. His co-accused‚ John Gay‚ was sentenced to six years in prison but he has since died behind bars.
UK authorities immediately ordered a retrial but Tucker started a new life for himself on the pristine Atlantic seaboard.
Magistrate Vusi Mhlangu could not address the delays in the extradition hearing because Tucker's new attorney‚ Ben Mathewson‚ has to familiarise himself with the case. To prevent further delays Mhlangu has set down October 13 as the trial date.
Webber told TimesLIVE he was surprised by Tucker’s decision to appoint Mathewson - his fourth attorney in about one year.
“I spoke with my client on Tuesday last‚ he didn’t say anything to me. I was actually taken aback‚ you know. I thought my client would call me‚ but to date I haven’t even heard from him‚” said Webber.
“I can’t say that it’s a delay tactic. I don’t know‚ I can’t assume anything‚” he said. Tucker has also had his bail conditions amended to suit his sea-side lifestyle.
His movements are restricted to a three-kilometre radius in Sea Point and is being monitored by a tracking bracelet. This means he can jog to the gym‚ and even to the public swimming pool.
Webber said they planned to have his bail conditions amended to have his ankle bracelet removed.
Webber also noted that Tucker might be taken into custody again. There is a dispute about the bracelet tender which will be heard in the high court in Pretoria. This could result in bracelets being removed and awaiting trial detainees and parolees having to report to a correctional facility.
Webber said that if the court finds Tucker extraditable he could appeal against the decision and this could draw out the process even further.
"I'm a little bit annoyed that he didn't have the decency to call me but then that speaks volumes about what the man is. Maybe his karma will hit him as a result of that‚" said Webber.