Fugitive wanted in UK for child-sex offences will be extradited

28 March 2019 - 16:11 By PHILANI NOMBEMBE
Accused Lee Tucker's claims that he would not receive a fair trial if extradited to Britain because he had been the target of 'vile, distorted and exaggerated' media coverage did not persuade the high court in Cape Town on Thursday.
Accused Lee Tucker's claims that he would not receive a fair trial if extradited to Britain because he had been the target of 'vile, distorted and exaggerated' media coverage did not persuade the high court in Cape Town on Thursday.
Image: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

A man wanted in the UK to answer to more than 40 charges of sexually assaulting young boys has failed to convince Cape Town judges that he is being targeted because he is gay.

Lee Tucker's claims that he would not receive a fair trial if extradited to his home country because he had been the target of "vile, distorted and exaggerated" media coverage also failed to persuade the high court on Thursday. He had lodged an application to set aside his extradition hearing.

According to Somerset detective constable Alison Mildren in the UK, Tucker was identified in 1997 as being part of a paedophile ring that had allegedly exploited vulnerable boys in Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea and Caerphilly.

Lee was arrested in a major investigation after victims pointed him out for allegedly sexually abusing them in Caerphilly when they were aged 13 to 14. The alleged offences were committed between 1985 and 1991. 

Tucker and his co-accused were convicted in 2000 and sentenced in the Swindon Crown Court to eight years' imprisonment. But Tucker jumped bail two days before the judgment was handed down and came to South Africa.

Despite being a fugitive, Tucker successfully appealed against his conviction. But, because of the seriousness of the offences, the court ordered a retrial. He was arrested in Cape Town in 2016 on a warrant issued by the North Avon Magistrates’ Court and was set to go on trial in the Bristol Crown Court.

Tucker, however, put up a spirited legal fight.

While awaiting a decision by the minister of justice on his surrender, he challenged a decision by a Cape Town magistrate that he be extradited to the UK to stand trial. He sought to have those proceedings reviewed and set aside on the "grounds that they were manifestly and grossly irregular in numerous aspects" and in breach of his constitutional rights.

Tucker argued that under UK law, he should be retried on the same charges he originally stool trial for. He said the new warrant listed new charges.

He told the high court in Cape Town, during his appeal, that his arrest and trial in the UK were subject to what he termed "vile, distorted and exaggerated" media coverage. He said his arrest in Cape Town and subsequent bail application also received publicity.

Judge Mark Sher said a person accused of heinous sexual offences did not have the right to bar the media from covering proceedings in court or prevent a prosecution from taking place because of media exposure.

Tucker told the court that he intended submitting an affidavit from an expert on British law which would show that it unfairly discriminated against homosexuals. The high court dismissed his application to review and set aside his extradition hearing. It also upheld the magistrate’s decision, declaring that he was liable for extradition.


subscribe