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Elderly man wins fight against sex charges

17:19 Fri Sep 14 2012

An 87-year-old man has won a court battle to avoid being sent back to New Zealand to face charges of sexually assaulting his two daughters 50 years ago.

A warrant for the man's arrest was originally issued in the District Court at Manukau on August 17, 2010.

It alleged he committed 14 sexual offences against his two daughters between 1957 and 1975, when the girls were aged between five and 17 years.

A Brisbane magistrate made an order in June last year that the man surrender himself to New Zealand to face the charges.

The man unsuccessfully appealed the surrender order in the Supreme Court in Brisbane in August last year.

He then took the matter to the Federal Court in Brisbane, where his lawyers argued on a number of factors, including the man's age and the delay in the proceedings, which they said made any extradition to New Zealand unjust.

Barrister Jeff Hunter SC told the court the manner in which the proceedings may be undertaken in New Zealand was not in line with the idea of a just trial in Australia.

He said his client, who has lived in Australia since 1978, risked facing duplicate charges upon his return.

Mr Hunter said such charges would never be allowed to proceed in Australia, and New Zealand authorities would not give an undertaking that his client would be protected from these charges.

In a written judgment handed down this week, the Federal Court ruled in the man's favour, finding that the potential duplicate charges would expose him to an "unjust, oppressive or too severe a punishment".

The court ordered the surrender warrant be quashed.