Former UPNG Chancellor to stand trial in Australia

ABC reports Police allege the first three offences took place in a hotel in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley

A prominent Papua New Guinean lawyer, businessman and former Chancellor at the University of Papua New Guinea  will stand trial in Australia charged with raping, drugging and stalking a teenage girl in Brisbane.

ABC reports Police allege the first three offences took place in a hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley in 2019 and the victim was a girl under 18 at the time.

The stalking is said to have taken place later that year, with police alleging Mr Kennedy installed spyware on the victim’s phone to track her movements.

His then-de facto partner Kathleen Johnson is also charged with sexually abusing the girl.

Ms Johnson, also from PNG, has been charged with rape, indecent dealing with a child and administering alcohol for the purpose of a sexual act.

She is facing another charge of possessing child exploitation material, allegedly in the form of explicit text messages about the victim that were found on her phone.

The pair were jointly committed to stand trial after a four-day hearing in the Brisbane Magistrates Court this week.

They sat on separate sides of the courtroom during the proceedings.

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Neither of them entered a plea and both remain on bail.

According to court documents, Mr Kennedy was arrested in October 2019 at the Brisbane airport while attempting to travel back to PNG.

Abuse allegations were first raised with members of the Australian Federal Police based in PNG.

After being charged in Australia, Mr Kennedy started legal proceedings in PNG against AFP liaison officer Julian Bianco, AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw and Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll in Port Moresby.

According to a report in local newspaper the Post Courier, Mr Kennedy’s lawyer McRonald Nale told the court in October last year the investigation and legal processes “should have taken course here in PNG”.

“Basically our case is that the Australian Federal Police mounted an illegal operation here, to the extent that their operations started and they received the complaint, that aspect of their conduct we say is illegal.”

The AFP and Queensland police declined to comment when contacted by the ABC at the time because the matter was before the court.

Mr Kennedy also pursued legal action in PNG against the people who raised allegations with the AFP, arguing that phone calls and text messages were recorded without his permission.

A separate criminal case is also underway in PNG involving one of the witnesses.

 


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