Corazon Miller is a NZ Herald reporter

More than 400 criminals deported from New Zealand in past five years

Judy Richards who lost son, Rhys Middleton, 23, when a Chinese national ploughed into him, causing his death. Photo / John Borren.
Judy Richards who lost son, Rhys Middleton, 23, when a Chinese national ploughed into him, causing his death. Photo / John Borren.

More than 400 people have been deported for a criminal offence in the past five years - the majority from Samoa, China and Tonga - with those on home detention likely sent home before their time is up.

Data released by Immigration New Zealand under the Official Information Act revealed 415 were deported in the time period between the start of 2011 and September 8 this year.

Samoans accounted for the highest number of these deported for a criminal offence, 73 in the same time period, followed by 62 Chinese and 39 Tongans.

INZ refused to divulge the details of their crimes because the information wasn't available "without substantial collation or research".

In more data, released under a separate OIA request, it was revealed 54 foreign nationals, with a sentence of home detention, had been deported home between November 1 2010 and July 5 this year.

INZ couldn't say at what point during the home detention period they were deported, but has said it was usual practice to do so prior to completion.

This is a sore point for Judy Richards who lost son, Rhys Middleton, 23, when a Chinese national ploughed into him, causing his death, in a Waitangi weekend crash.

Jieling Xiao, 27, was convicted of dangerous driving causing the motorcyclist's death - but was deported after an appeal against her initial sentence of 17 months jail was granted.

She was given nine months' home detention and 150 hours' community work - but was deported just days after her appeal.

Jieling Xiao, who pleaded guilty to causing death of motorcyclist Rhys Middleton, was deported after an appeal against her jail sentence was granted. Photo / Paul Taylor
Jieling Xiao, who pleaded guilty to causing death of motorcyclist Rhys Middleton, was deported after an appeal against her jail sentence was granted. Photo / Paul Taylor

Richards said it was unfair convicted criminals were able to go back home to their lives while her son had lost his life.

To reduce the risk of other families experiencing the same grief, she's launched a petition to get a law that would see foreign drivers in New Zealand for an extended time period sit a driver's license test.

However, Richards also wanted to see the government departments to ensure those who were convicted do their time.

"We are still struggling with our loss," she said. "Ideally it would be nice if they do the crime, they do the time that has been sentenced to them."

Correspondence revealed under the OIA indicated Xiao had been served a deportation liability notice approximately six weeks before her sentence was changed to home detention - just over two weeks after she was first sentenced to jail.

Two days before her deportation, the correspondence indicated Xiao had made no appeal against the deportation and "would be deported" if released from her term of imprisonment.

Despite some public outcry, at the time INZ refused to confirm any decision had been made.

Thought it said at the time deportation of those on home detention was well within the boundaries of the law and its usual practice.

"The normal process is to deport criminal offenders who have been served a deportation order before they serve any period of home detention".

"If a criminal offender is not in prison, but is in the community, INZ can deport that person if they fall within the criteria for deportation set out in the Immigration Act 2009."

Under the act a person on a temporary entry class visa who has committed an offence for which the court has the power to impose imprisonment for a term of three months or more is liable for deportation.

"People who are liable for deportation and sentenced to home detention or other community based sentences are usually deported as soon as practicable," said an INZ spokesperson.

Owner and principal at Ryken & Associates David Ryken said at the time of Xiao's deportation that there was nothing to prevent INZ from deporting a person on home detention.

"It's up to INZ to allow them to complete a sentence, or bring it forward and deport them," he said. "There's no assumption they can sit out their home detention at all."

- NZ Herald

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