A Kiwi career criminal who plied a pair of girls with alcohol before encouraging them to strip for photographs is likely to be kicked out of Australia for good.

Patrick Van Lith is the latest New Zealander about to be deported from across the Tasman with Australian immigration authorities fearing the man with a rap sheet spanning five decades still poses a risk to the community.

This is despite claims the 59-year-old is suffering from ill-health and is a reformed man.

In a recently-released finding by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia, Van Lith has failed in his bid to overturn a decision denying him a bridging visa and allow him to stay in Australia because he did not pass a good character test.


Van Lith, who has two adult children and four grandchildren living in Australia, came to the attention of immigration authorities after he took a fortnight's break in New Zealand in 2014. When he went through border security he admitted to previous convictions on his incoming passenger card.

The Australian convictions - which span 28 years - included assault, theft, using a weapon and indecent treatment of two girls.

Despite facing an outstanding deportation order that dated back 33 years, Van Lith applied for a 30 day border visa. He then applied for a bridge visa earlier this year which was turned down by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on the grounds he did not meet the good character test.

Van Lith appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of Australia to review the refusal.

In its findings the tribunal found Van Lith had a lengthy criminal career on both sides of the Tasman.

His first convictions started in 1975 and included a stint in jail for three aggravated robberies committed in 1977.

Within months of shifting to Australia in 1983 where he had hopes of making a fresh start, he again offended.

The offences continued over the next two decades escalating in severity. He was convicted in 2008 for indecently assaulting two girls and was given a two year suspended sentence. A Townsville district court judge said the offences were "serious" and Van Lith clearly took advantage of his two young victims by plying them with alcohol.

The tribunal senior member Theodore Tavoularis noted at the time Van Lith suggested the circumstances had been "just blown out of proportion".


The police summary of facts showed the girls - 13 and 14 - were encouraged to drink alcohol before being urged to remove their clothes so Van Lith could take lewd and inappropriate photographs. The summary of facts also made reference to physical interference.

The tribunal heard Van Lith started breaking the law when he was 17 after he was caught driving while disqualified. It escalated in severity over the years with a particularly menacing and brutal attack on a person Van Lith believed was making overtures to his girlfriend.

"It is difficult to escape the Minister's contention as to the seriousness of the Applicant's criminal offending. He has committed serious and violent offences ranging from common assault, aggravated robbery, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and, as mentioned earlier, indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16 years [x 2]. I therefore accept the contention that these crimes should be characterised as serious and that his sentences are an accurate reflection of the nature of his offending," wrote Tavoularis.

The tribunal found his criminal conduct had remained a constant theme for the next three decades.

He was also dealing with a life-long struggle with illegal drugs and alcohol.

Despite Van Lith's plea that he was not likely to continue to break the law because he had moderated his drinking habits and no longer used illegal drugs the tribunal found his extensive criminal conduct meant should he re-offend he would pose a "very significant risk" to the Australian community.

Tavoularis said his offending could result in members of the Australian community to suffer anything from financial loss, serious physical or psychological injuries to even death.

Van Lith said he was now seriously ill with issues affecting his lungs and was reliant on others to look after him and manage his affairs.

He had also engaged in charitable and volunteer work with a loyal and reputable group of friends. As well his extended family were living in Australia, despite never having met his grandchildren.

He also claimed there was nothing for him in New Zealand if he was deported.

However, the tribunal found there were no significant practical obstacles to Van Lith resettling in New Zealand and upheld the decision to refuse him a visa.