Magistrate 'angry' at delay of extradition case against UK paedophilia accused

Lee Tucker is led away from reporters by his lawyer  Ben Mathewson. (Margaux Solinas, News24)
Lee Tucker is led away from reporters by his lawyer Ben Mathewson. (Margaux Solinas, News24)

Cape Town - The extradition application for Lee Tucker, who is wanted in the UK on 42 charges relating to paedophilia, was postponed again in the Cape Town Magistrate's court on Tuesday because he has changed lawyers.

"This is very unprofessional," said Magistrate Vusi Mahlangu, holding a file filled with documents to show his displeasure at the delays.

Tucker was arrested in SA in March 2016 at the request of the British government.

He was originally sentenced 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.

He allegedly fled the country and has been on the run for at least 15 years.

READ: UK child sex fugitive back in Cape Town court

Tucker currently lives in Sea Point, Cape Town, and has been fitted with a monitoring anklet by the department of correctional services, while he waits for his extradition hearing.

However, the department of correctional services has cancelled the contract of the company which supplies the monitoring anklets.

The company, Engineered Systems Solutions, is challenging the cancellation in court in a separate matter.

Tucker decided that he wanted to join that application because if his anklet is removed he will have to sit in jail while he waits for his extradition application.

This put a strain on his funds, and he was unable to pay his previous lawyers.

New lawyer

He has abandoned that court bid, and appointed a new lawyer, Ben Mathewson.

The court heard on Tuesday that Mathewson needed time to prepare to defend his client and to get copies of documents.

Mahlangu was unhappy about the latest developments and insisted that the case should not be delayed any longer.

He set a strict timeline for the case.

On September 29, Mathewson has to give Mahlangu a written undertaking that he is ready to proceed for the new extradition application date on October 13.

A second date of November 10 was set down, in case the application runs longer than expected.

Prosecutor Christopher Burke said the State was ready to proceed.

In the passage outside the court, Tucker tried to speak to journalists, unfolding a piece of paper, but Mathewson held him firmly by the shoulder and led him away.

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