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Dad faces extradition from Thailand

Sunday Mar 25 19:18 AEST
The three-year-old daughter of a 39-year-old Australian arrested over her abduction sobbed as he was taken away by Thai police and Australian embassy officials, a witness in Phuket said.

The man, named by media reports as John Leary, from the Sydney suburb of Mosman, was arrested on Friday at the Add Mansion hotel and guest house where he had been staying with his daughter Savannah since January 14.

It is alleged Leary collected his daughter from her Sydney school on October 26 last year then fled to Singapore before entering Malaysia.

The Thai-language Kom Chad Luek newspaper said Leary contacted his American-born ex-wife in February and allegedly demanded more than $A1 million in ransom.

NSW police will seek to extradite the man from Thailand with detectives from Strike Force Blantyre, set up in October 2006 to investigate the alleged kidnapping and ransom demands, set to travel to Thailand soon.

The manager of Add Mansion, a Thai woman who asked not to be named, said Leary had been at the three-star guest house since arriving in Thailand. She described Leary as content and said there appeared to be no outward signs of strain between him and his daughter during their nine-week stay at the resort.

"She was a very lovely little girl," the manager told AAP from the hotel.

"But she cried a lot, she sobbed when her father was arrested."

Leary is now being held at the Phuket Provincial Court pending a court hearing into his extradition to Australia.

His daughter was reported to have been taken to a juvenile custody centre in Bangkok where she will remain until she is reunited with her mother.

A spokesman for the Australian Embassy would not comment on the case. Leary and his daughter were expected to receive Australian Embassy consular assistance.

NSW Police said they were coordinating with other agencies, including the Department of Foreign Affairs, for the extradition application.

İAAP 2007
Edited

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