News Asia-Pacific

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Dad of abandoned Gammy 'had child sex conviction'

Jonathan Pearlman in Sydney and Duncan Forgan in Bangkok

Published 05/08/2014 | 02:30

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Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is fed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Chonburi province. According to Pattaramon, his Australian parents, through a local surrogate agency, asked her at her 7th month of pregnancy to terminate it because of his Down's Syndrome but she refused and kept the baby. Reuters
Gammy, a baby born with Down's Syndrome, is fed by his surrogate mother Pattaramon Janbua at a hospital in Chonburi province. According to Pattaramon, his Australian parents, through a local surrogate agency, asked her at her 7th month of pregnancy to terminate it because of his Down's Syndrome but she refused and kept the baby. Reuters

An Australian man accused of abandoning his surrogate boy in Thailand after learning the baby had Down's syndrome was previously convicted of child sex offences in Australia, it has been alleged.

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The claim has raised further concerns about the oversight of international surrogacy. Australia's Channel Nine reported that the father of six-month-old Gammy spent time in jail for "indecently dealing with a child under the age of 13 in 1998". The man's wife, who is of Asian origin, was aware of the conviction, but insisted that he "was a good man".

It is not known if the couple would have declared the alleged sex offence and the development is likely to increase pressure on the Australian authorities to intervene in the case.

Scott Morrison, the Australian immigration minister, said officials were investigating whether "the child may be eligible for Australian citizenship".

"We are taking a close look at what can be done here, but I wouldn't want to raise any false hopes or expectations," Mr Morrison said.

"We are dealing with something that has happened in another country's jurisdiction. It is terrible, just absolutely horrible and heartbreaking."

The legal implications of the official queries mean that Gammy could be reunited with his twin sister in Australia.

The Australian couple have insisted they did not know of Gammy's existence and that the Thai surrogacy agency only told them about his healthy twin sister, whom they took back to Australia. Pattharamon Janbua, the 21-year-old surrogate mother in Thailand, claims that the father met both children at a hospital there, but refused to touch or look at Gammy.

An online campaign titled Hope for Gammy has raised more than €155,000 to assist with medical treatment. The boy is being treated for a life-threatening lung condition in a Thai hospital.

Irish Independent

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