PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. — One of the complainants who says Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh sexually abused him as a boy says the public has a right to know his whereabouts now that he is being returned to Canada.
At two trials in Port Hawkesbury in 2010, MacIntosh, now 75, was convicted of 17 counts of abusing four boys in the Strait area in the 1970s. However, those convictions were subsequently overturned by a higher court that ruled it took too long to take him to trial. He was extradited from India in 2007 to face the charges, the first of which was laid against him in 1995.
CTV News has reported that MacIntosh is being released from prison in Nepal, with officials citing his age as among the factors behind his release. MacIntosh had served about half of his seven-year sentence. It is believed he intends to go to Ontario and will go into hospital.
MacIntosh was arrested in December 2014 at a hotel room in Lalitpur on charges of luring a boy to his room for sex in exchange for money. He had gone to Nepal in August of that year and reportedly targeted other street children during his stay.
In 2016, MacIntosh's appeal was denied by a Nepalese court, although a fine intended to go to the victim in the case was reduced from about $13,000 to about $3,900.
It was reported in Nepalese press that the victim was an amputee and MacIntosh lured him by offering him gifts and promising medical support to procure a prosthetic arm.
Complainant Bob Martin, who says MacIntosh abused him during his childhood in Port Hawkesbury, said he would have preferred MacIntosh serve his full sentence in Nepal, but noted “at least the Nepalese prison and court system did their part.”
He did ask, if MacIntosh is in poor health, what assistance is the Canadian government offering him.
“Apparently, the Nepalese did not want him dying on their soil,” Martin said. “They saw him, ‘Hey, he did four years, he paid his fine, apparently he was a good prisoner, he was teaching other prisoners English,’ he was doing his shtick as he always did so I’m sure they were done with him.”
Martin did laud the Nepalese court system for obtaining a swift conviction against MacIntosh and incarcerating him for a longer term than the Canadian justice system would have achieved had the verdicts not been overturned.
“At least I can see that as a positive,” Martin said.
In a phone interview from Calgary where he is visiting family, Martin said he contacted the RCMP seeking confirmation that MacIntosh was in Ontario, and they directed him to Peel Regional Police. When he contacted that office, his inquiry was directed back to the RCMP.
“Everybody is passing the buck,” Martin said.
He has also contacted Cape Breton-Canso MP Rodger Cuzner in an effort to obtain more information. A request to speak with Cuzner left with his assistant by the Cape Breton Post was not returned by deadline Monday.
MacIntosh’s release did not come as a complete surprise, Martin said, noting there were rumours in the summer he was making applications for his release.
“It was always in the back of my mind that it’s going to happen soon,” he said. “For victims, there’s always triggers ...What’s weird for me is, I’m travelling in Canada, I had to go through Pearson so it would be nothing for me to bump into him at Pearson when he’s going to Ottawa.”
Jonathan Rosenthal, who has served as a lawyer for some of the complainants and is legal counsel for Beyond Borders, said in an email Monday that all he knew of MacIntosh’s release was what he had read online.
He wrote that it was not clear whether Nepal released MacIntosh or if he was being transferred under the Transfer of Offenders Act.
“I suspect it’s sadly not the latter,” Rosenthal wrote. “If it was the latter he would have to finish his sentence here. I’m sure he will make it back to Canada much quicker than when Canada actually pretended they wanted him back. It was only through the relentless determination of the Canadian survivors he was sentenced to the term he received.”
As part of the court process in Nova Scotia, MacIntosh was deemed a low risk to reoffend. However, Martin noted that MacIntosh went on to be convicted of sexually abusing the boy in Nepal. MacIntosh has two other similar yet unrelated Canadian convictions on his record, dating back to the 1980s.
“If he’s in Ontario, I would caution people there, they should know where he is because he’s a serial pedophile regardless of what people call him and regardless of what the Supreme Court of Canada said about him not being brought to justice in a timely fashion,” he said.
There have long been questions about MacIntosh’s health, dating back to the time of his extradition from India, when it was reported that he had leukemia. His health was also mentioned during his trial and when he complained about conditions he encountered while incarcerated at the Central Nova Correctional Facility.
“People on the ground in Kathmandu are saying his health wasn’t good, but he always had that cancer card, he always said he had leukemia,” Martin said.
Martin also noted that the victims were the last to be officially told any information regarding the release of the offender.
“The public has a right to know his whereabouts,” he said. “Crazy as it seems, he is to register that information voluntarily within seven days of returning to Canada — who will police that outcome? I hope there is a way that can be monitored.”
Martin actively supported MacIntosh’s prosecution in Nepal, sending authorities copious background materials on the Canadian court proceedings against him.
Martin said he doubts whether MacIntosh would return to Nova Scotia, although he still has family living in the province.