UK fugitive in Cape Town loses extradition appeal

2019-03-28 15:46
UK child sex fugitive Lee Tucker.  (Jenna Etheridge, News24)

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

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A UK fugitive who has been living in Cape Town since fleeing the UK in 2000 on Thursday lost his extradition appeal but was granted an opportunity to submit evidence about alleged discrimination which a magistrate did not want to receive.

Lee Tucker, in his 50s, was not present in the Western Cape High Court when Judge Mark Sher read out a part of his written judgment. Judge Monde Samela agreed with the judgment.

Tucker was in custody at Pollsmoor Prison after being found liable for extradition on paedophilia-related charges and denied bail. 

Appeal

He approached the High Court to appeal the extradition order handed down in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court in November 2017, and had also wanted the High Court to review and set aside those proceedings because of alleged gross irregularities.

Sher dismissed the appeal and the review on Thursday morning. He also confirmed the extradition order by the magistrate's court. 

He, however, found that the magistrate's refusal to entertain certain evidence was irregular.

"On top of this, there is no doubt that the appellant was badly treated both by the prosecutor, as well as by the magistrate, who was driven by impatience and intemperate haste, to conclude the proceedings as quickly as possible without having due regard for the appellant's procedural rights."

READ: 'I am being targeted because I am gay' - UK child sex fugitive

He got the impression that the magistrate saw the proceedings as nothing more than a "mere formality".

While Sher wondered about the relevance and impact of the evidence, he said the proceedings of the extradition enquiry would be re-opened to allow Tucker the opportunity to submit this evidence within 15 days.

The evidence was "an affidavit by an expert on UK law, in relation to the alleged discriminatory features thereof pertaining to the sexual offences for which the appellant is sought for extradition to the UK, and any documentary evidence pertaining to the alleged unfair media coverage which the appellant has received".

NPA response

The director of public prosecutions would also have the right to file a response to this evidence.

The magistrate would consider these submissions and then submit the evidence, record of proceedings, and High Court judgment to the justice minister for his decision in terms of the Extradition Act.

Sher noted that the media had a duty to inform the public about serious sexual offences against vulnerable children. Members of the public also had the right to know about alleged perpetrators so they could take steps to protect their families.

Tucker was arrested in March 2016 after a provisional arrest request from the UK and was later declared a fugitive of justice.

He fled the UK a few days before judgment relating to paedophilia-related charges was handed down against him and a co-accused. 

Tucker was sentenced in absentia to eight years in prison by the Swindon Crown Court, South Wales, in 2001, but the sentence was overturned on a technicality and his retrial on 42 child sex charges was ordered.

Assault

News24 previously reported that 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.

From Swansea in Wales, he made a living in South Africa as a helicopter pilot and instructor.

While still out on R150 000 bail, and with a monitoring bracelet around his ankle, he had exercised at gym and along the Sea Point promenade.

Virgin Active announced in 2017 that he was blacklisted from all its gyms in southern Africa.

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