Editorial: Explain outrage, please

By Andrew Austin

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The Department of Internal Affairs has some explaining to do.

It is not good that an English criminal can steal the identity of a brain-damaged Hastings man and for our Government to reward him with the man's New Zealand passport.

Today's front page lead is about Simon Hennessey, a British man, who was sentenced for the manslaughter of his 72-year-old aunt, but managed to escape and was on the run for 15 years.

Somehow Hennessey managed to apply for and be granted the passport of Robert Eric Jeffery, a Hastings man who now lives in a home after a horrific car accident that left him brain-damaged. Mr Jeffery has never applied for a passport, which allowed this criminal to steal his identity and get a passport in his name.

Of course, this is not the first time the New Zealand passport has been abused in this way. You may recall that in 2004, Uriel Kelman and Eli Cara - two Israeli citizens suspected of being Mossad agents - were caught trying to fraudulently acquire a New Zealand passport using the identity of a cerebral palsy sufferer. Cara and Kelman served three months of their six-month prison sentences before being escorted out of the country by police.

The incident caused diplomatic tensions with Israel, but also led to an inquiry to prevent it happening again. Clearly, the measures put in place have not worked and Internal Affairs needs to tell us how and why they failed.

A flaw in the system has allowed a violent escaped prisoner to obtain a false passport and possibly live among us. It is not clear when Hennessey lived in the Bay, but police did raid a Hastings house linked to him.

Some serious questions need to be answered?

- Hawkes Bay Today

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