Australia probes 'paedophile' father in Thai baby scandal

Perth - Australian authorities were on Wednesday investigating the father at the centre of a Thai surrogate baby scandal who was exposed as a convicted paedophile, to determine whether his young daughter is at risk.

The man, from Bunbury south of Perth, sparked global controversy for apparently abandoning his Down's syndrome baby boy, Gammy, in Thailand and taking only his healthy twin sister back home, although he and his wife dispute the circumstances.

In another twist to a story that has generated fierce debate on the moral and legal grounding of international surrogacy, reports emerged on Tuesday that the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has convictions for child sex offences.

Australian media widely reported that the 56-year-old electrician was convicted for sexually molesting three girls.

State broadcaster ABC said he was jailed for three years for molesting two girls under the age of 10 when he was in his twenties. He was also accused in 1997 of another six charges of indecently dealing with a child and reportedly imprisoned for 18 months.

Authorities in Western Australia said they attempted to contact the couple at their home on Tuesday but with a media scrum gathered outside, no one answered the door.

Darren O'Malley, spokesperson for the Western Australia Department for Child Protection, confirmed to AFP that an investigation had been launched and said another attempt to speak with the parents would be made on Wednesday.

"A full investigation is being conducted into the safety and welfare of the child involved", he said.

"We will talk to the people concerned and information will also be gathered from the police and other family members."

O'Malley said that if they could not track down the man and his wife then "we would enlist the services of the police to locate the persons of interest".

"We have the powers to remove children when there is significant and immediate concern over their welfare", he added.

"On the other hand, we could find that there is no need for other action."

Surrogate mother shocked

The Thai surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, said she was shocked at hearing of the child sex convictions and was willing to take back the boy's twin sister, aged seven months if the allegations were true.

"I'm shocked, but I don't know how true it is, [If it is true] I will try to take the other baby, but that's up to the law", she told AFP on Tuesday.

Pattaramon, aged 21, has said she agreed to carry another Thai donor's egg fertilised by the Australian man in exchange for around $14 900.

An agency, which she refuses to name for legal reasons, acted as the go-between.

She claims the agency told her the parents wanted her to have an abortion, which is illegal in Thailand once medical tests revealed the boy had Down's syndrome, but she refused.

The Australian couple have disputed her version, claiming they were told Gammy had a congenital heart condition but not Down's syndrome, and left him in Thailand because doctors said he would not survive more than a day or so.

But on Wednesday Vijit Panayingpaisan, a spokesperson at Gammy's hospital, said fresh tests on the boy had revealed his heart is in fact in a "good, strong condition".

Thai health authorities say it is illegal to pay for surrogacy in the kingdom and that someone who agrees to carry a baby must be related to the intended parents.

On Tuesday officials raided the Bangkok clinic where Gammy's mother had the IVF treatment and told AFP they were investigating a doctor there to see if he breached medical ethics, as well as the owner of the clinic.

Commercial surrogacy, in which a woman is paid to carry a child, is not permitted in Australia but couples are able to use an altruistic surrogate who receives no payment beyond medical and other reasonable expenses.

To avoid those curbs, Surrogacy Australia said couples are increasingly going overseas to find women willing to carry their baby, with several hundred each year travelling to India, Thailand and the United States.

Iuliana Butucel Moosa 2014-08-06 12:34:02 PM
What a twist in the store . Omw that baby girl should be removed from the animals and reunited with her brother.
Wehr Wulf 2014-08-06 12:38:11 PM
If there is one loathsome creature on the face of the planet I detest more than anything is pedophiles.
Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg 2014-08-06 12:41:45 PM
Remove the baby girl from that house as soon as possible. Then investigate, the child's well being is at stake.
Janine Filmer 2014-08-06 12:42:40 PM
If there is even a tiny, tiny possibility that this man may molest his baby daughter (now or in the future), she should be removed from the family with all due speed.
Nin Ja Kitty 2014-08-06 12:42:56 PM
Hope the authorities sort this out and make sure that the little sister to Gammy will not be harmed by this sick paedophile. Sick, sick. A leopard never changes it's spots.
David Van Schalkwyk 2014-08-06 12:54:56 PM
Sorry Australia you actually have to investigate if the child is at risk by being adopted by a convicted paedophile??? ARE YOU F__KING KIDDING ME???? Yes she is at risk you bunch of morons take her away now before the sick f__k gets his hands on her....
Athena 2014-08-06 01:10:00 PM
I wonder if his wife knew about the conviction.Could a woman really knowingly marry and have children with a paedophile? I most certainly could not.