I am being targeted because I am gay – UK child sex fugitive

2017-11-27 22:12
UK child sex fugitive Lee Tucker. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

UK child sex fugitive Lee Tucker. (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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Cape Town – Lee Tucker, who is wanted in the UK for 42 paedophilia-related charges, believes he is being targeted because he is homosexual, the Cape Town Magistrate's Court heard on Monday afternoon.

Tucker appeared in court for a bail application after he appealed a ruling on November 10 that he is eligible for extradition.

When asked by prosecutor Christopher Burke whether he was being "charged in the UK for being homosexual", an irritated Tucker simply responded: "I believe I am."

Burke replied: "Is that not a little bit unfair towards gay people Mister Tucker?"

"Grossly unfair," Tucker responded.

During Burke's questioning Tucker asked rhetorically: "What is a paedophile?"

Tucker explained: "I believe different people have different ideas [about] the meaning of the word... I believe the dictionary defines paedophilia as an attraction to preadolescent boys, young boys."

"These were people (his accusers) who were teenagers, who I knew were teenagers, who [later] alleged to be a couple of years younger, which then would have made it a crime."

He did not explain the context of his comments about the age of consent, or what age he had believed the alleged victims to be at the time.

'Presumption of innocence is gone'

Tucker said he does not have an attraction to preadolescent boys.

"So, I think the use of the word paedophilia is a little stretched in your imagination," he told Burke.

Tucker's South African partner and three women who have been supporting him were absent from proceedings on Monday.

Tucker, who fled the UK in 2000, repeatedly coughed when reference was made to his poor health.

He claimed that "historically sexual cases" had evolved to be "grossly unfair" towards accused in the UK.

"The biggest part is the presumption of innocence is gone," Tucker said.

Burke replied: "So now Mr Tucker, the presumption of innocence which has been a part of the British legal system since the 1700s has all of a sudden disappeared?"

Tucker explained his belief that the onus now fell on the accused to provide an alibi when their word was put against another's.

New start

The commercial pilot had been living in South Africa for 15 years before he was arrested in March 2016, after a provisional arrest request from the UK.

He was found guilty in absentia in the 1990s.

His co-accused launched an appeal resulting in his conviction being overturned on a technicality and a retrial being ordered. However, the co-accused was convicted again and died behind bars while serving his sentence.

Tucker claimed he had been unaware that he was wanted in the UK on paedophilia-related charges.

He said his parents, who attended the court proceedings where a retrial was ordered, failed to mention it to him when they visited him in South Africa.

"I started a new life in South Africa – I never wanted to return," Tucker said.

The charges he faces in the UK include assaulting underage boys, living from the earnings of male prostitution and being part of a paedophile ring in Bristol in 1998.

Magistrate Vusi Mhlanga postponed the bail application to December 6 for arguments.

Tucker remains in Pollsmoor prison.

Read more on:    cape town  |  lgbti rights  |  crime

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