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Pitcairn Island: Sex abusers appeal to Privy Council

Publish Date: 02 Mar 2006

Source: NZPA (New Zealand Press Association)

Pitcairn Islanders now appeal to Privy Council

Six Pitcairn Islanders convicted in 2004 of sexually abusing women and underage girls on the Island have lost their appeal today.

The Pitcairn Court of Appeal, sitting in the High Court in Auckland under a special Act of Parliament, dismissed the men's appeals.

The court ruled it was satisfied the general grounds for appeal had not been met.

The men had argued that the British legal system under which they were convicted did not apply to them because they were Pitcairn Islanders and the English judicial system had not been ratified or approved by the island.

Following trials held on the Island in October 2004, six men out of 13 were convicted by the Pitcairn Supreme Court sitting in Papakura, south Auckland, in May 2005.

Their charges included rape, indecent assault and incest on women and underage girls over a 30-year period.

Some offenders lived on the island, some lived in New Zealand and some lived in Australia.

The sentences ranged from six years' jail to 250 hours' community work.

Today's court upheld an appeal by Randall Kay Christian on one count of indecently assaulting a girl under the age of 13.

This did not lessen Christian's six-year sentence on other charges.

Pitcairn, one of the remotest inhabited islands in the world, is halfway between New Zealand and South America.

The British claimed Pitcairn as British territory and applied British law after Fletcher Christian led a mutiny on the British armed ship Bounty. He set Captain William Bligh and 18 crew adrift in an open boat, and spent eight months sailing around French Polynesia, mostly Tahiti, before landing on Pitcairn in January, 1790, and setting fire to the ship.

The men will now put their case before the Privy Council in London in July this year.

All the trial costs, including prosecution and defence costs, have been met by the British government.

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