The father of baby Gammy, who made global headlines at the centre of an international surrogacy scandal, has reportedly died.
David Farnell, a convicted sex offender, was the biological father of baby Gammy who was controversially conceived by a surrogate mother in Thailand in 2013.
Pattaramon Chanbua from Chonburi province, southeast of Bangkok, agreed via an agent to be a surrogate for Mr Farnell and his wife Wendy, for a fee of $16,000.
She gave birth to twins – a boy and a girl. However the couple from Bunbury, south of Perth, separated the twins and returned home only with the girl.
The boy, dubbed baby Gammy, was born sickly and with Down syndrome.
It was later revealed the WA man and biological father of the twins was a convicted child sex offender.
According to The West Australian, Mr Farnell died recently. He was in his early 60s.
It was previously reported that Mr Farnell had been battling asbestos-related illness, and his death comes less than a year after he lodged a lawsuit against asbestos supplier Amaca Pty Ltd.
It is not known if his death is linked to his illness.
In a 2014 TV interview, the couple said they felt they had little choice but to leave Thailand with Gammy’s healthy sister and leave the boy behind.
“We wanted to bring him with us,” Mr Farnell told the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program.
They said they returned to Australia with Gammy’s sister Pipah as the surrogate mother had told them “if we try to take our little boy, she’s going to get the police and she’s going to come and take our little girl… and she’s going to keep both of the babies,” he said.
The couple were criticised for appearing to reject the boy, who also had a hole in his heart and had to be treated for a lung infection in a Thailand hospital.
The plight of the baby saw Australians raise more than $240,000 for the infant who stayed with his surrogate mother.
The story led to countless headlines and sparked heated debate over surrogacy laws, as well as prompting investigations into the commercial surrogacy industry in Thailand.
During this time it was revealed that Mr Farnell was previously convicted in 1997 of more than 20 counts of child sex offences stemming from the 1980s and early 1990s, as well as well as three counts of procuring a girl under the age of 13 to indecently deal with him.
He was jailed for three years and was convicted of further crimes, adding 18 months to his sentence.
Baby Gammy is reportedly doing fine in Thailand as he begins school.
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