EXCLUSIVE: Name suppression lapses for businessman convicted of smuggling 5kg of Ecstasy - after judge gave him second chance. Now Jan Antolik faces a deportation battle.

A Czech national who escaped automatic deportation after a judge gave him a second chance went on to smuggle 5kg of a drug used to make Ecstasy into New Zealand.

Permanent name suppression for Jan Antolik in relation to the drugs charge has been lifted after a successful appeal by the Crown to the High Court.

Antolik, real name Karel Sroubek, was jailed last June for five years and nine months after a jury found him guilty of bringing the Class-B MDMA powder into the country hidden among legitimate goods.

The conviction came four years after a judge discharged him without conviction, despite him being found guilty of having a false passport and lying to immigration officials.

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In 2012, Judge Roy Wade gave Antolik a second chance because he had never been a "drain on the New Zealand public'' and made a positive contribution through his kickboxing prowess and business success. A conviction would have given the Government grounds to automatically deport him.

"I wish you well for the future," Judge Wade told Antolik.

Jan Antolik (real name Karel Sroubek) is a former representative kickboxer known as 'Atomic'. Photo/Supplied.
Jan Antolik (real name Karel Sroubek) is a former representative kickboxer known as 'Atomic'. Photo/Supplied.

Two years later, Antolik was arrested after 5kg of MDMA powder, which can be pressed into Ecstasy pills, was found inside a shipping container in Auckland.

He was convicted at trial of importing a Class-B controlled drug and although Judge Evangelos Thomas said it was not proven that Antolik was the "mastermind or at the top of this tree" he was was "far more than just a catcher".

However, Judge Thomas also permanently suppressed Antolik's identity in a decision overturned by Justice Ailsa Duffy in the High Court.

Antolik sought to challenge Justice Duffy's ruling but the Court of Appeal declined leave, so the suppression order lapsed.

The largescale import of MDMA is Antolik's latest scrape with the law in New Zealand - and could be his last as immigration officials plan to deport him after his release from prison.

Karel Sroubek came to New Zealand from the Czech Republic in September 2003 to start a new life as Jan Antolik.
Sroubek, 22 at the time, and his family had been threatened by two police officers who wanted them to lie and clear the main suspect in a murder investigation.

Instead, he left a videotaped witness statement, which was later crucial in convicting the killer, and fled the country with a doctored passport.

But he was unmasked in October 2009 when Czech police gave Auckland detectives details of his identity and an arrest warrant on minor charges in connection with the 2003 murder.

Antolik pleaded not guilty to the charges but admitted using a false identity to come to New Zealand.

His defence was he had a "reasonable excuse'' to give a false name as he had fled his homeland in fear of corrupt police officers and a criminal.

The Crown did not dispute his story but said Antolik should have revealed his true identity to New Zealand authorities.

The jury agreed and found him guilty on the false passport charge and making false statements to immigration officials.

Jan Antolik was found guilty of passport and immigration offences but discharged without conviction. Photo/Steven McNicholl.
Jan Antolik was found guilty of passport and immigration offences but discharged without conviction. Photo/Steven McNicholl.

Judge Wade told Antolik his penalty was "one of the most difficult sentencing decisions I have ever had to come to''. Under normal circumstances, the offences warranted a prison sentence of 18 months to two years but Antolik's story was an "exceptional case''.

Defence lawyer David Jones, QC, drew Judge Wade's attention to the section of the Immigration Act that allows the Immigration Minister to deport anyone convicted of holding a visa under a false identity without appeal or review.

He urged the judge to discharge his client without conviction to prevent this happening.

Judge Wade agreed that Antolik had never been a "drain on the New Zealand public'', and had made a positive contribution through his kickboxing prowess and business success.

He was convinced that Antolik would still be in danger from corrupt Czech authorities and the man he helped convict of murder if he were deported back to the Czech Republic.

"I am satisfied that your initial false applications were as a result of you doing the right thing, not the wrong thing, and furthermore, had you been frank with the authorities when you first came here, it seems plain that you would have been granted a work permit and, ultimately, residence in any event, on your own merits."

In his submissions, Crown prosecutor David Johnstone cited other cases which made it clear that when sentencing, the courts should not interfere with deportation decisions made by Government departments.

But Judge Wade said the person making the decision about Antolik's immigration status should be careful, and he was not "100 per cent sure'' that would happen, as the Immigration Minister could deport anyone with a false-identity conviction without appeal.

The false passport Jan Antolik used to enter New Zealand. Photo / Supplied.
The false passport Jan Antolik used to enter New Zealand. Photo / Supplied.

A discharge without conviction would not necessarily stop Antolik being deported, he said, but "it will give you a certain chance of being able to argue your case on its merit and not run the risk of your being removed from this country without proper procedure and review''.

Back in 2012, immigration officials said Antolik's residency was being looked at with a view to deport him.

This week, a spokesperson declined to comment on legal and privacy grounds.

It can also be revealed that Antolik was arrested in Operation Ark, a covert investigation into Ecstasy-like pills, just days after his false passport trial in 2011.

He was later convicted of being a party to the manufacture of Class-C controlled drugs, although the conviction was later overturned on a technicality.

The Court of Appeal ordered Antolik stand trial again, this time on an alternative charge of possession of a Class-C drug for supply, but the prosecution was abandoned.

The person he bought the pills from was Jeremy Hamish Kerr, later convicted as the 1080 blackmailer and who also admitted pressing the illicit pills.

The pills and the 5kg of MDMA, worth around $375,000, are the basis for a police forfeiture application to seize "tainted property", including money, from the sale of Antolik's $800,000 home.

Antolik had also been previously acquitted of committing an aggravated robbery with two members of the Hells Angels.

Talented but trouble

2003: Karel Sroubek flees Czech Republic as witness to a murder. Enters New Zealand with false passport in name of Jan Antolik. Later gains residency and represents his new country as a kickboxer.

2009: True identity discovered when Czech police contact their counterparts in NZ.

2010: Arrested with two Hells Angels on aggravated robbery and blackmail charges. Acquitted on all charges.

2011: Jury finds him guilty of using false passport and giving false details to Immigration officials. Arrested soon after as part of Operation Ark, a covert investigation into Ecstasy-like pills.

2012: Judge discharges him without conviction on false identity charges so Antolik is not automatically deported.

2014: Convicted of manufacturing Class-C drug from Operation Ark arrest. Conviction overturned but Crown abandons second trial. A few months later, arrested importing 5kg of MDMA, a Class-B controlled drug, used in Ecstasy.

2016: Convicted of importing MDMA and jailed for five years and nine months, but identity kept secret by sentencing judge.

2017: Name suppression lifted.