Australia to deport British rapist

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The Independent Online

A British rapist who carried out a horrific sex attack in a dungeon likened to The Silence of the Lambs is being deported from Australia back to the UK.

Leslie Cunliffe, 63, posed as a policeman to kidnap a 21-year-old woman, then gagged, blindfolded and bound her, strapped a fake bomb to her body and raped her.

He also demanded a one million Australian dollar ransom from her family during the May 1999 attack in Geelong, near Melbourne, in the state of Victoria.

Police compared the "dungeon" where he imprisoned the woman for seven hours to something from the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, the Geelong Advertiser reported.

Cunliffe, who holds a British passport, served 12 years in prison in Australia for the rape before being freed on April 16.

He was detained by immigration officials in Victoria yesterday and is now being held at the Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre awaiting deportation to Britain.

A spokeswoman for Australia's Department of Immigration said: "Department officers are undertaking to remove Mr Cunliffe to the UK, where he lived before moving to Australia.

"It will be as soon as practical but we do not have a date."

The Australian authorities cancelled Cunliffe's visa on "character" grounds under a provision in their Immigration Act that allows them to kick out people convicted of serious offences.

A series of ageing British sex offenders have been deported back to the UK under Australia's tough immigration policy.

Paedophile Raymond Horne was removed to Britain in March 2008 having served a 12-year prison sentence for 14 sex offences.

He lured two homeless boys, aged 13 and 15, to his flat while volunteering for a charity.

Horne had moved to Queensland from Britain in 1952, but never became an Australian citizen and on his release the authorities revoked his visa.

In July 2005 Robert Excell was deported to Britain after spending 37 years in Australian prisons for child sex convictions dating back to 1965, when he raped a seven-year-old boy.

Excell was born in the UK and emigrated to Australia when he was 10, but never took citizenship.

Convicted murderer and serial rapist Simon Wilson, who had lived in Australia since he was two, was sent back to Britain in January 2008 after being released on licence from a life sentence for killing an elderly woman with up to 100 punches.

Three months later he attacked and tried to rape a frail 71-year-old woman in Camden, north London.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduced provisions to ensure that people convicted of sex crimes overseas are made to sign the sex offenders register in this country.

Breaching the register is a criminal offence, with a maximum punishment of five years' imprisonment.

Cunliffe, who reportedly moved to Australia from Britain in 1967, will be met by police when he lands in the UK.

After being interviewed by officers, he will almost certainly be placed on the sex offenders register.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Protecting the public is our number-one priority.

"Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 anyone convicted of a relevant sexual offence in another country can be placed on the sex offenders register on their return to the UK.

"Tough checks and a range of tools are available to the police to manage known sex offenders living in the community, including sexual offences prevention orders, which can also apply to offenders convicted of sexual or violent offences overseas if they pose a risk of serious sexual harm in the UK."