No bail for yachtsman on multiple sexual assault charges

A YACHTSMAN accused of sexually assaulting seven women off the Queensland coast between the Whitsundays and the Gold Coast has been refused bail amid fears he would flee.

John Collins, 75, was last year convicted after trial of the offences and then sentenced to serve 80% of a 20-year jail term for the assaults on the women, including raping six of them on his yacht the Pan Pacific, between 1986 and 2000.

But the Queensland Court of Appeal quashed those convictions and ordered retrials after finding the cases should not have been joined.

Mr Collins will face a trial on July 7 for alleged offences against four of the women. Three separate trials will follow for alleged sexual assaults on the three other women.

He would place newspaper advertisements asking for the women to fill a nanny position, looking after his young son.

Collins would then allegedly lure them into his cabin where he is accused of sexually assaulting them at various ports including the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Bundaberg and on a deserted island off Hamilton Island.

Barrister Carl Heaton, acting for Mr Collins, told Brisbane District Court on Thursday that his client's son would pay a $20,000 surety, report to police daily and live with a fellow yachtsman.

Judge Michael Shanahan said he still believed Mr Collins was an unacceptable risk of failing to appear for his trials.

He said Mr Collins knew exactly how serious these alleged offences were now and he had shown his propensity to abscond in the past.

"In my view the facts of this case clearly demonstrate that he has in the past been unwilling to attend to take his trial," he said.

"It's plain the offences themselves are extremely serious and he must be well aware of that now because of what has occurred and the history of this matter."

The court heard when police first began investigating the matter in 2000, Mr Collins fled and was located in South Australia six years later.

Witness statements revealed he spoke of being wanted in Queensland for rape offences during the interim "so he was clearly aware the police were interested in him," Judge Shanahan said.

Mr Collins was extradited back to Queensland and granted bail but he fled again before his trial.

He was later found in Victoria and extradited back to Queensland where he has remained in custody since.

Judge Shanahan said he rejected Mr Collins' suggestion he thought the charges were dropped when his solicitor rang to tell him there was a warrant for his arrest.

"It seems ... Mr Collins uses different names and he has access to mobile homes and an ability to travel," he said.

"He's also a qualified seaman and has plainly had access to yachts in the past upon which he has travelled around Australia, if not even wider."


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