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By far the most pathetic and self-absorbed comments you might ever hear in sport have emanated out of Soulan Pownceby's corner over the past few days.

Not that Pownceby himself has had anything to say. Others are doing his talking.

But as Australian immigration authorities get ready to decide if the child-killer and boxer should be allowed to compete in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games, his coach in Christchurch has indulged in a world-class bleat.

Paul Fitzsimons deserves respect for taking Pownceby in, for doing his best to assist a man guilty of a despicable crime to become a human being fit to walk the streets - if indeed Pownceby has undergone such a rehabilitation - for caring where many others would have walked on by.

But Fitzsimons' comments do not do him proud.

"The Aussies don't want him there because he could win the gold - if he just gets in the ring," the coach claimed.

"I don't condone what happened, but he was young and it all was a helluva mess.

"He's served his time. He's a good bloke. What do you have to do in life?

"The media never gave him a chance in Athens. He could have won ... The media just destroyed him.

"And now it's building up that way all over again."

Excuse me folks while I change keyboards, for the old one has just drowned in tears for this "good bloke".

For those who might have missed the story, Pownceby was jailed in the 1990s for the manslaughter of his 5-month-old daughter Jeanette Rikihana.

The details of the case, including that tiny Jeanette's brain and skull were split, are horrific. Pownceby, who was 19 when Jeanette died, tried to lie his way out of trouble.

It was certainly not the first time Jeanette had been subjected to physical horrors, and she was malnourished at the time of her death.

It was a sickening, heinous crime for which, somehow, Pownceby received only a four-year sentence. When freed, he continued to offend in a violent way.

Despite this, Pownceby represented New Zealand at the 2004 Olympic Games in Greece where, after a great deal of national angst, he went with mixed blessings.

The debate over whether Pownceby should represent this country in sport is a complicated one that tests both emotions and logic, particularly around the subject of the right to redemption. It is one of those cases where, to many of us, there just isn't a perfect answer.

But for Fitzsimons or anyone else to attack Australia for daring to question Pownceby's Games participation, to suggest that the host nation are doing it for the sake of their gold medal haul, is disgraceful.

Australia has every right to determine if they want Pownceby in their land, and their Prime Minister, John Howard, was also well within his rights to voice an opinion. After all, we're not talking about double parking or shoplifting offences here.

And so, to some of Fitzsimons' searching questions about life.

Yes, Pownceby may have had a tough or indeed tragic life as a youngster, but so have many other people who have gone on to lead decent and even inspiring lives.

As for "what do you have to do in life"? ...

Well for one, you do your level best to get through it without inflicting a horrible existence and brutal death on a defenceless baby, or anyone else for that matter.

As for turning his life around, Pownceby did not need to take the life of a tot before finding a new path.

And young? Well by 19 you should have a very good handle on what is right and wrong, whatever your upbringing. Five months, though - that really is young.

Then we have the drivel about the media never giving poor Soulan a chance. Well, Paul, the media and everyone else, including an incredibly lenient justice system, have given him a helluva of bigger chance than he gave Jeanette.

The whole image of a child killer punching his way to triumph is sickening to my mind.

As for the thought of Pownceby revelling in the glory of winning a gold medal - should the day ever arrive when the flag heads up the pole and the band plays the anthem, let's save our thoughts for the people who might be suffering further anguish over that poor baby's death.

By pursuing such a high-profile career, Pownceby should have realised he might again have to "pay" for his wicked crime. His profile is also almost certain to increase the agony for many victims of similar dreadful events.

This may sound hackneyed, but once again it is the victims who are forgotten while the perpetrators get all the love and attention.

As for one report that indirectly quoted New Zealand boxing chairman Keith Walker saying there was "no need to open old wounds" - what an incredibly unfortunate choice of words.

Games selector Mike Stanley hoped there wouldn't be an uproar because of Howard's comments.

Well, there is an uproar. That's the way it goes sometimes when a young child is smashed to death.

And ask anyone with a criminal record in this country - paying for the crime doesn't only involve doing the jail time. Redemption is not always complete. Well that's not fair, I hear you say. Well if only we still had the chance to ask Jeanette Rikihana about what is and isn't fair in life. She would have been about 12 now and capable of discerning such things, had it not been for an utterly selfish father absorbed by his demons who had never dreamed any beautiful dreams on behalf of the little girl he helped to bring into the world.

Taking into account the catastrophe he visited on others, Pownceby should be grateful for mercies as small as the simple ability to get out of bed every morning and contemplate the joys of a new day.

If it is any consolation, he wouldn't be the first person whose life has been altered by a crime for which he is glibly said to have already paid the price.

There are even New Zealanders whose ability to travel the world is restricted because of relatively minor drug offences, offences so small they would struggle to find daylight on the Pownceby rap sheet. I know of one such sportsman who had to discreetly withdraw from teams headed to the United States.

What is most galling about Fitzsimons' comments, however, is that there should be any questioning of Australia's motives for deliberating over Pownceby.

Under normal immigration rules, Pownceby may not be allowed to enter Australia anyway.

Yes, New Zealand may have made its decision two years ago, although given the nature of the crime we will retain the right to revisit the subject whenever we please, Messrs Fitzsimons, Walker and Stanley.

More importantly in the current argument, Australia was in no way a party to the debate or decision, and is well within its rights to treat the case as it wishes. Letting Pownceby compete in Athens was a close decision. Pownceby and his supporters have no cause for complaint should Australia count him out this time round.