UK

Rapist Leslie Cunliffe deported to UK from Australia

A British passport
Image caption Cunliffe, who had lived in Australia since 1967, reportedly arrived back on Thursday

A British man convicted of raping a woman in Australia in 1999 has been deported to the UK.

Leslie Cunliffe, whose attack was likened to the film The Silence of the Lambs, is thought to have arrived at London's Heathrow airport on Thursday.

Cunliffe, who moved to Australia in 1967, posed as a policeman to kidnap a 21-year-old student in Geelong, near Melbourne, in May 1999.

Police compared the shed he used to a "dungeon" portrayed in the 1991 film.

A spokesman for Australia's Department of Immigration said: "I can confirm that he left on a flight to the UK from Melbourne at 3pm local time on Wednesday. He was given an appropriate short-term support package for his arrival.

"He has now left the country and is starting his new life in the UK. It is no longer an Australian matter."

Cunliffe, who is now in his 60s, strapped a fake bomb to the body of his victim and demanded a ransom from her family.

He served 12 years in an Australian prison for the rape, before being freed in April last year.

On Monday he lost an appeal against the Australian Department of Immigration's decision that he should be deported to the UK.

It is not clear what plans have been made for him on his arrival in the UK, but he would have to sign the sex offenders register.

'Protecting the public'

A Home office spokeswoman 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."

At the time of the attack the Geelong Advertiser newspaper reported that police described the scene as something from horror film Silence of the Lambs.

Cunliffe held the woman captive for seven hours in a garage that resembled a "dungeon", the newspaper said.

He demanded A$1m (£650,000) for her release but was later caught.

Cunliffe was arrested after his release for breaching parole conditions.

Australian authorities then cancelled Cunliffe's visa on "character" grounds, making use of a provision in their Immigration Act which allows removal of people convicted of serious offences.

In June last year Australian immigration officials said he would be deported.

He appealed against the ruling, but Australian Federal Court Justice Julie Dodds-Streeton threw out the appeal at a hearing in Melbourne.

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