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New twist in Thai surrogacy case as father a convicted sex offender

The case of a Down's syndrome baby born to a Thai surrogate took a new twist Tuesday when it emerged the Australian man who fathered him is a convicted child sex offender.

Gammy, who has Down’s syndrome and a heart defect, was one of twins born to surrogate Pattharamon Jhanbua in Bangkok in December in an arrangement facilitated by a local surrogacy agency.

Pattharamon and the couple from Western Australia, named in local media as David and Wendy Farnell, have given conflicting accounts of the circumstances surrounding the birth.

She said they rejected him and returned home to Western Australia with his sister; they said at first that the Thai doctor had not informed them about the second child but appeared to change their position, according to a report in a local newspaper Tuesday.

Court papers show David Farnell was jailed for three years for molesting two girls under 10 and later convicted and sentenced on charges of indecency involving a 13-year-old, The Australian newspaper reported.

Australian broadcaster Channel Nine News said Wendy Farnell confirmed the convictions and said: "He is a good man - people make mistakes -that doesn’t mean he is a bad person forever."

Pattharamon, speaking at a hospital where Gammy is being treated for a lung infection, expressed shock.

"I need help from anyone who can bring my girl back to me as soon as possible," she told Fairfax media.

"This news makes me sick. I am worried about my baby girl."

The Bunbury Mail, a local newspaper published in the area where the couple live, on Tuesday carried comments attributed to the couple, but delivered by a friend.

"Gammy was very sick when he was born and the biological parents were told he would not survive and he had a day, at best, to live and to say goodbye," the friend said.

The newspaper said reports that the couple had wanted the baby aborted when they learned he had a condition were false.

Pattharamon had wanted to keep Gammy, to give him a proper Buddhist funeral, the friend said.

In a hospital press conference Tuesday, Pattharamon declined to talk about anything other than the infant’s medical condition, which she said was improving.

She thanked the media and charities that have raised in excess of200,000 Australian dollars for Gammy’s medical treatment.

The case sparked a public outcry when it came to light last week and a call for reforms to Australia’s surrogacy laws.

The Thai and Australian governments have said they are monitoring the case "closely."

The Thai government said it was investigating the legal status of surrogacy clinics; while the Australian government said it had engaged its foreign affairs and immigration departments and the attorney general’s office to study the case.


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