On July 7, a court in Britain will hear India’s appeal to extradite Raymond Varley, who is facing charges of sexual offences against children in Goa, India from 1989-1991. 66-year-old Varley is one of the accused in the Goa orphanage child sexual abuse case tracing back to 1989 which involved many foreign nationals. The racket was run by an Indian called Freddy Peats in Goa. Peats gave foreign nationals access to children in the orphanage. Back in 1991 when raids were conducted in Peat’s house the police found more than 2000 obscene images of children.
Varley has been charged by the CBI on many counts of sexual abuse including sodomy, indecent assault and and taking indecent photographs.
At least five children had identified Raymond Varley from photographs and recounted how Varley has abused them.
On May 8, 2014, a Westminster judge had rejected to grant the Indian government’s request for extradition and had accepted Raymond Varley’s claim that he was suffering from dementia.
While rejecting the extradition request the judge said, “Finding an extradition order to face trial for a man suffering from dementia needing ‘immediate daily support’ must be both ‘unjust’ and ‘oppressive’ and therefore barred.”
Varley, a teacher from Halifax, procured a report from a neuro psychologist Linda Atterton who was based out of Norwich, which was 291 km away from where he lived. Varley made her report the crux of his argument against extradition. I t is however baffling how someone suffering from dementia could locate a psychologist through the internet and get the certificate.
Several NGOs in India and UK following the case opine that Varley has gotten away too easily. How did he zero in on this neuro psychologist who lives so many miles away to give him a certificate of dementia? Why did the Crown Prosecution Service not press for an independent verification of his mental condition? If he indeed had dementia, the certificate should have been given by someone qualified. Whether this neuro psychologist is qualified is questionable. This psychologist had given the certificate of dementia in two hours. It is imperative that Varley is brought back to India. Justice must proceed towards its logical conclusion. We are not saying that he has to be convicted, but he should undergo trial. The larger meaning to be sent out is that India means business. India should send the right message as in the last 2 years three foreign national convicted for child sexual abuse have been released from jail on grounds of good behaviour”.
What Varley and his defence claimed
Varley had claimed that sending him to a prison in India would be against his human rights as the prison conditions post a real risk to life.
Following Varley’s accusation of Indian prisons, two experts Lord Ramsbottam and Professor Rod Morgan submitted reports in the district court found that there was nothing about Indian prison conditions that would infringe on his human rights. Rod Morgan in his report said “cultural features may be alien to him, taking account of his age medical condition and culture Raymond Varley would likely find living stressful, but I do not think it can be said his human rights would be infringed.”
Linda Atterton in her finding said Varley had “widespread moderate-severe impairment severely affecting everyday life”, but she cannot “pinpoint the type of dementia but it may be Alzheimers”.
During one of the hearings, Varley even threatened to commit suicide. As reported in The Daily Star April 2014, “He made his suicide threat in a statement during extradition proceedings at Westminster Magistrates Court in London.”
Mocking the system?
An Interpol red corner notice was issued against Raymond Varley in 2001 after a Goa court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against him. But in spite of this Varley has repeatedly been moving between Thailand, Britain, Mexico and Slovania. He was finally arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, but Thai authorities sent him to Britain instead of India on whose request the Interpol notice was issued.
It has been reported that Varley had previously served time in prison in UK in the mid 1980s and “was given treatment at Wormwood Scrubs to deal with his sexual offending”.
What about the victims of child sexual abuse and other such offenders
Raymond Varley’s case is not just about bringing him back to India for trial, it is also about the victims. Many child sexual abuse victims do not come out in the open, and for those who have, it is important that the legal and policing system brings the perpetrators to book.
If the higher court in UK too rejects India’s extradition appeal on the basis of Raymond Varley’s claim of dementia, that will enable other offenders like Johnathan Robinson (another british citizen who is wanted for similar charges) to continue with such heinous crimes without any fear of the law.
In 1996, the CBI filed a charge sheet against many persons including Freedy Peats, Werner Ingo of Australia, E.C. McBride of New Zealand, and Nils Jonsson of Sweden. A supplementary charge sheet was filed against Raymond Andrew Varley and others.
GoaChronicle.com View Point:
Goa government must impress upon the Centre to ensure that proper measures are taken to bring Raymond Varley back to Goa, India to face trial for the heinous crimes committed under the guise of running an orphanage to young children from Goa and other parts of India.