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Privy Council rejects Pitcairn appeal

Published: 6:07AM Tuesday October 31, 2006 Source: One News

Six men from Pitcairn Island have lost their last battle to have their sex convictions quashed.

The men were convicted in 2004 on historic crimes of rape, incest and sexual assault of underage girls, but took their case to the Privy Council to try to have those convictions overturned.

The Law Lords dismissed the defence argument that English law did not apply in Pitcairn, or that it was never properly proclaimed. They have also given short shrift to the claim it took too long for the men's cases to be dealt with by the courts.

"Obviously they are disappointed. It's been a long time...the whole process has taken six or seven years," says defence lawyer Paul Dacre.

The Privy Council decision is an end to a long battle for crown prosecutors and police, including numerous trials and hearings on Pitcairn and in New Zealand.

"I think for a lot of the people on the island it's, I think they hope it's a mark in the sand that the island can move ahead. And there is a sense... that that's already happening.

"It marks the endpoint in probably about six or seven years of investigation and court proceedings and it marks the end of the road so it's very significant," says Crown prosecutor Simon Moore.

The six convicted men are former mayor Steve Christian, his son Randy Christian, Steve Christian's father-in-law Len Brown and his son Dave Brown, as well as the Pitcairn postmaster Dennis Christian and Terry Young.

The men have been out on bail pending the outcome of the hearing, but now their legal avenues have been exhausted they will finally serve their sentences.

Four were sentenced to jail, making history as Pitcairn's first inmates, and one has been given leave to apply for home detention. The two other men were given community service.

Seven New Zealand prison officers have been dispatched to staff the purpose-built prison on the island which the six men helped build.

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