18 Apr 2005

Pitcairn Islander says the islanders never thought of themselves as immune from prosecution

7:28 pm on 18 April 2005

The Pitcairn Supreme Court, sitting in Auckland, has heard from a Pitcairn Islander that the community never thought itself immune from prosecution of serious offences.

The court is hearing a challenge to the convictions of six Pitcairn men on sex abuse charges, who claim they never realised that English law applied to the remote island.

The crown has opened the hearing by showing documents it says proves that Pitcairner's had specific knowledge that serious offences like rape would be referred to the British governing authorities and that English law would apply.

The crown also showed examples of how Britain has had a part in the history of Pitcairn since the early 18-hundreds.

Tom Christian, a leading figure on the island, has said in an affidavit that Pitcairn has not been a law-less society immune from prosecution.

The defence says the islander's could not have been expected to know that English law supplemented the local Pitcairn law.