New Zealand man deported from Australia turned to crime to pay for family visit

A man jailed for nine years shortly after being deported from Australia told New Zealand authorities he committed crime to pay for his family to visit.

Today’s development comes just over a month after the Government knocked back a mega prison plan.
Source: 1 NEWS

He was given a roof over his head for two weeks, thanks to the Australian Government, before meeting up with fellow New Zealand deportees he had spent time with on Christmas Island.

McArley was deported from Australia after being convicted for dishonesty offending, including shoplifting.

At his sentencing in the High Court in Auckland this week it was revealed McArley made two trips to Christchurch, supplying wholesale quantities of methamphetamine to a local dealer.

"You agreed to transport methamphetamine for a financial incentive. You told the report writer that you had nothing, and you knew you could get some money if you could pay for your family to come over and visit you," Justice Gordon said.

But the police were listening to McArley's phone.

He was arrested in December 2016 but went on the run for three months after managing to escape from the Auckland police station.

"I accept that your support network was your fellow deportees. You found yourself in a situation where you needed to earn money. It goes someway to explain your actions but it does not excuse them," Justice Gordon said.

The judge gave McArley discounts for his early guilty pleas and his remorse. She sentenced him to nine years in prison.

His case is similar to Henry Robati who moved to Australia as a boy after his parents split up.

He spent time in an Australian youth justice facility for armed robbery.

RNZ News understands he finished his sentence in an adult prison before being sent to the Australian immigration detention centre on Christmas Island. He was then deported to New Zealand in May 2016.

Within a few months he was involved in the same drug supplying syndicate as McArley.

At his sentencing in June, Justice Downs said the police investigation showed Robati was contacted by a senior member of the syndicate and told to deliver a bag containing 14.9 kilograms of methamphetamine and 1.9 kilograms of cocaine.

But the police were watching.

Aside from a pair of shoes, there was no evidence Robati got paid.

Justice Downs took time off his sentence for his youth and his early guilty pleas.

Robati was sentenced to nine years and three months and will be eligible for parole after serving a third of his sentence.

"Whether you are released then is a matter for the Parole Board, not me. Your attitude will be important. So to the extent to which you demonstrate regret for your offending which was plainly serious," Justice Downs said.

Canterbury Prisoners Aid and Rehabilitation Services manager Helen Murphy said deportees used to get 14 nights' accommodation and $700 cash from the Australian Government. That was now down to 5 nights and as little as $50.

Deportees who have been held for longer than a year in prison are often subject to a Returned Offenders Order, which means they get more support and funding. They get a phone, some food for breakfast the following morning and are dropped off at their motel.

The next day Ms Murphy and her team set them up with an Inland Revenue number, a bank account and make contact with Work and Income.

The service also tries to find them long-term accommodation.

"We can do long hours - long hours - going to viewings...just to find them somewhere to live. It's getting quite hard to do that."

Sometimes the men have no alternative but to stay with the Salvation Army or the local City Mission.

Ms Murphy said returned offenders were motivated people but a small thing could knock them off course.

She was not surprised to hear cases such as McCarley and Robati's.

"Even people who've come and they've started off on such a good track, you know? They've got the job, they've got the home. Something happens and quite often, I'll get a call to say, 'Helen, I've gone off track'."

Isolation for returned offenders was real and some had left wives, parents and children behind. One man broke down when she asked if he had family - his son was in Australia.

"He tried to talk to his little boy the other night and the little boy said, 'I can't talk to you Dad, I'm crying too much'."

A police spokesperson said they were notified about deportees and worked with the Department of Corrections to assist these people.

A Corrections spokesperson said those subject to orders got help with clothing, a phone, public transport cards and accommodation for up to 12 weeks.