Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Parole conditions tightened for repeat sex offender who escaped deportation

NZ Herald file photograph
NZ Herald file photograph

A man who escaped deportation despite being convicted twice of sexual offending - once while on bail - within his first two years in New Zealand has had his parole conditions tightened.

Last Monday the Herald revealed that Sultan Ali Abdul Ali Akbari arrived in New Zealand from Afghanistan in October 2012 on a resident visa.

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In February 2013 Akbari indecently assaulted a woman and was convicted.

Then in 2015 he was jailed for two years and one month for five charges of indecent acts on girls aged 8 and 10 and indecently assaulting an 18-year-old.

That offending happened while Akbari was on bail awaiting trial on the 2013 charge.

He was released on parole in February with a number of conditions that will remain in place until September including a curfew and not associating with young people unsupervised.

However after he was released the Parole Board have tightened those conditions.

One of those conditions is that Akbari is now subject to GPS monitoring and has been banned from entering any area "where children congregate" and shopping malls.

Akbari's case caused outrage when the Herald revealed he had been granted a deportation liability suspension by Immigration New Zealand - meaning he could not be deported as long as he did not offend again within five years.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse. New Zealand Herald photograph by Mark Mitchell

The Herald has now learned that after Akbari was released on parole, Akbari's probation officer applied to have his conditions changed.

A Parole Board decision obtained by the Herald dated March 16 stated that since the initial imposition of conditions to manage Akbari's risk, "concerns have arisen" in relation to the repeat sex offender.

For legal reasons the Herald cannot yet publish the specifics of those concerns.

Board panel convener Judge Arthur Tompkins revealed in that decision that Akbari's probation officer sought conditions "prohibiting Akbari from entering any public swimming pools, parks, playgrounds or other recreational areas where children congregate, or shopping malls, unsupervised".

"Given the events set out in the application the amendments sought are appropriate to properly manage Mr Akbari's risk in the community," Judge Tompkins said.

Akbari was notified that the board was hearing his probation officer's application and said he did not wish to appear before them.

"Furthermore, he consents to the changes," said Judge Tompkins.

Akbari's original parole conditions remain in place - and now he is subject to four further restrictions including GPS monitoring.

The board ordered the 59-year-old to submit to electronic monitoring in the form of a GPS tracker as directed by his probation officer so that his whereabouts can be monitored.

They have also banned him from "entering any public swimming pools, parks, playgrounds or other recreational areas where children congregate" unless he is supervised by an adult approved in writing by his probation officer.

And Akbari must not enter "any shopping malls" unless he has prior written consent from his probation officer.

Akbari is living in the wider Auckland area with his adult children.

He does not speak English and the board earlier revealed he had made "no progress" in prison in terms of addressing his sexual offending.

Garth McVicor, Sensible Sentencing Trust. Hawke's Bay Today photograph by Warren Buckland
Garth McVicor, Sensible Sentencing Trust. Hawke's Bay Today photograph by Warren Buckland

The Sensible Sentencing Trust was perplexed by the decision to allow Akbari to stay in New Zealand.

"Given those most disturbing circumstances, why on earth was he not deported?" said SST spokesman Garth McVicar.

The decision to let Akbari stay was made by a senior Immigration New Zealand official on behalf of the Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

As a result of the Herald's initial story about Akbari, Woodhouse suspended INZ's decision-making powers around deportations.

"It is now clear that Minister Woodhouse's revoking of Immigration New Zealand's decision making powers for 14 days is woefully inadequate," said McVicar.

"Those powers clearly need to be suspended until further notice, and there needs to be a full inquiry not only into the Akbari case, but into decisions made by the department not to deport in similar situations.

"Initially we were supportive of Minister Woodhouse's actions. Based on the information available at the time, his seemed to be a reasonable and measured response.

"Given what we now know, it is quite clear that something is badly wrong at Immigration New Zealand, and we call upon the Minister to institute a full public inquiry forthwith."

Victim advocate Ruth Money said the tighter conditions were still not good enough.

"That doesn't go far enough," she said.

"As we saw last week, there is public demand to review decision or revoke his deportation liability suspension."

A spokeswoman for Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said he was aware of the new information.

"It is his intention to discuss this with Immigration officials first thing Monday morning.

"The Minister has no further comment until that discussion has taken place."

- NZ Herald

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