A FORMER Evesham businessman accused of sex crimes against children has been jailed for three and a half years by a court in Australia.

Nigel Barnard, who ran his Fast Fences business from his home in St Catherine's Road, was found guilty of five out of six counts of sexual offences with a minor following a three-day trial at the county court in Melbourne, Victoria, last month.

He was sentenced to three years and six months with two years and three months to be served before he is eligible for parole.

Another trial is listed to commence on September 15.

Barnard, 56, was extradited to Victoria early last year under warrants issued by a court in Melbourne in July 2005 and February 2006.

An extradition hearing before District Judge Nicholas Evans in London heard that 33 offences were being alleged against Barnard.

The father-of-three, whose third wife Edna, whom he met in the Phillipines, gave birth to their first child in early 2007, weeks before an appeal against his extradition was dismissed by the then Home Secretary John Reid.

The son of a former Evesham journalist, Barnard emigrated to Australia with his family when he was four-years-old.

But after divorcing his second wife in 2003, he returned to the UK via the Phillipines. Because of visa difficulties, his new wife followed three months later.

He began working in a local factory but eventually launched his fencing business, Fast Fences, a year later.

After the initial extradition hearing he contacted the Journal to protest his innocence.

He said that he had been interviewed by police in Australia before he left the country to return to Britain in 2003 and there had been no attempt to prevent him leaving the country.

The allegations, he said. dated back more than 20 years to when he was a teenager.

Court officials in Melbourne confirmed that sentence had been passed following the first trial and that another was scheduled to be held in September.