A former Umhlanga resident is on the run from New Zealand authorities after being convicted of child molesting.

This week New Zealand media reported that trouble started for the former South African, Christopher Ian Crause, 47, and his wife Brigitte Daniele Crause, 51, when they trawled a website in 2009 looking for swingers.

After meeting one couple, Crause was introduced to their 15-year-old daughter and soon afterwards her 14-year-old friend.

During the trial in the Hamilton District Court, evidence presented told how Crause had showered the girls with gifts, followed by cannabis before engaging in sexual conduct with the girls.

The court heard how some of the offences took place after one of the teens fell out with her parents and moved into the Crause’s home.

According to the Waikato Times, Crause was found guilty in March of four counts of sexual connection with an underage girl, four counts of doing indecent acts with underage girls and two counts of supplying cannabis to a person under 18 years. He was released on bail to “get his affairs in order” before sentencing on June 15, but he did not turn up and a warrant of arrest has been issued.

Police tracking the case have confirmed that the Crause family flew from Auckland to Brisbane on May 23, with Brigitte and her children returning to New Zealand alone on June 5.

Crause told police that she and her husband had “a bit of an argument” after which he disappeared.

Police believe he obtained a second New Zealand passport, using the name Daniel Finnerty, which he used when leaving Auckland.

New Zealand police spokesman Andrew Mcauley said it was suspected Crause obtained the false passport to get out of New Zealand and then used his genuine NZ passport to travel from Australia to SA.

Brigitte has been charged with making false statements to help her husband get a fake passport and conspiring to defeat the course of justice.

She has already appeared in the Hamilton District Court and the case has been postponed.

Crause and his wife left SA in 1997 and in a telephonic interview yesterday with The Independent on Saturday, Brigitte said Crause was “originally from Umhlanga Rocks”, but was reluctant to provide more detail.

When asked if she had any contact with her husband since his disappearance, she replied “Not much, hey”.

She would not discuss where she lived in SA before emigrating, but confirmed she and her husband met in SA.

But she added they had lost contact with all family since moving to New Zealand.

New Zealand police said they were liaising with Interpol and that Crause faced up to five years in prison.

SAPS national spokesman, Captain Dennis Adriao, said SAPS were aware of the reports surrounding Crause.

“We have sent a query to Interpol and are waiting for a response,” said Adriao.