Aussie extradition could take a year for Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes
The extradition of former Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes to Australia over child sex offences could take up to a year if he challenges it through the British court system.
THE extradition of former Hey Dad! actor Robert Hughes to Australia over child sex offences could take up to a year if he challenges it through the British court system.
Hughes, 63, was granted bail in London on Thursday and indicated he will fight extradition for the alleged sexual and indecent assault of five girls aged from seven to 15 between 1985 and 1990.
Tom Percy QC is a criminal lawyer in Western Australia who specialises in extradition proceedings.
“The whole process would be somewhat similar to the WikiLeaks case (of Julian Assange) and that would buy you maybe a year’s time,” Mr Percy told AAP on Friday.
Mr Assange is holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, seeking asylum in the South American nation to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he’s accused of sexual assault.
Australia needs only circumstantial evidence to justify Hughes’ extradition and he would likely get bail in NSW, Mr Percy said.
“If I was advising him I would say ‘save your energy, save your money, save your time – let’s go to trial in Australia’,” he said.
Hughes could even strike an agreement with NSW police to return to Sydney on his own and present himself to authorities.
NSW Police Minister Michael Gallacher said: “There’s no doubt this is not going to be resolved quickly.”
Federal Justice Minister Jason Clare said he hoped Hughes would be returned to Australia over the “very serious allegations”.
“The attorney-general’s department has made a request for his arrest pending the presentation of an extradition request,” Mr Clare told reporters in Sydney.
Head of the NSW sex crimes squad, John Kerlatec, said all the victims had been informed of his arrest and had expressed a “great sense of relief”.
“Sexual assault and indecent assault leave scars on people, regardless of the time frame. To them it happened yesterday,” Detective Superintendent Kerlatec told reporters at NSW police headquarters on Friday.
“Every day they relive it.”
Police said they interviewed more than 200 witnesses, and friends and associates of Hughes during the “exhaustive” investigation.
Hughes, who played Martin Kelly in the popular television sitcom from 1987 to 1993, has been accused of 11 sexual and indecent assault offences. He was granted bail until an extradition hearing in London on September 19.
“My objective is to ensure that, at some point in time, Mr Hughes appears in court in NSW … to allow the witnesses and victims to have their time in court,” Det-Supt Kerlatec said.
In court in London, District Judge Michael Snow ordered that Hughes be electronically tagged and adhere to a strict curfew. He granted bail of £60,000.
Hughes, who has been living in London since 2010, must return to court when required and not be alone in the company of any person under the age of 16.
Westminster Magistrates Court was told that Hughes’ alleged victims included friends of his daughter, the daughters of family friends and a Hey Dad! cast member.
NSW police have outlined allegations of indecent exposure, kissing and inappropriate touching through clothing. – AAP