NZ-born man wins appeal to stay in Australia despite domestic violence convictions

Warning: This story contains graphic details of domestic abuse that some may find upsetting

A New Zealand-born man jailed for throwing his partner across a bed before hitting her with his fists and a bat has won an appeal to stay in Australia.

The case of New South Wales man Leroy Wilton is outlined in a review decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal handed down and published on 2 May.

Wilton, 35, was convicted in Orange Local Court in March last year over a series of domestic violence offences, including common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm and stalking and intimidation.

He was sentenced to 12 months jail, with a non-parole period of six months.

Visa initially cancelled

In Australia, if a non-citizen has been sentenced to 12 months or more imprisonment, their visa can be cancelled.

It means when that offender is released they are transferred to an immigration detention centre and given written notice about the cancellation.

The tribunal’s written judgement said Wilton’s visa was cancelled two weeks after his conviction as he was deemed to have failed the character test.

He sought to have the visa cancellation revoked and failed in February before asking for the review that has now been published.

A history of offending

The tribunal was told Wilton came to Australia when he was eight and has a 15-year history of offending, dating back to 2009.

It was the October 2022 attack on his ex-partner that prompted the intervention of immigration officials.

The police fact sheet published as part of the tribunal’s decision, outlined what happened.

“The applicant accused Ms D of cheating on him,” the tribunal said.

“The two argued in the master bedroom of Ms D’s residence. As the argument escalated, the applicant, using both of his hands, grabbed Ms D by the collar, lifted her off the ground and proceeded to throw her across the bed causing her to fall onto the floor.

“The applicant then stood over Ms D, grabbed and punched her multiple times with a closed fist to her face, causing immediate swelling and bruising on both eyes as well as a small laceration above her right eye.

“He grabbed her again and then grabbed a bat located underneath the bed, which caused Ms D to attempt to wrestle the bat away from him.

“That did not work. The applicant lifted the bat above his head and swung it in a downwards motion towards Ms D.

“Eventually Ms D escaped to a family friend’s residence”.

Wilton on ice during assault

The tribunal was told Wilton was on ice when he offended, but has been drug free since and had completed a domestic violence program.

The tribunal said Wilton had PTSD from unresolved trauma and drug use.

It said it was satisfied he had undertaken steps towards rehabilitation but it was insufficient to conclude there was a low or no risk of reoffending.

Despite this, the tribunal backed his call to stay.

“On the cumulative evidence, the tribunal is satisfied that if removed from Australia, the applicant would experience significant mental, emotional, practical and financial hardships, which would be difficult to overcome.”

In support of Wilton, 10 witnesses gave evidence, including former partners, who supported his bid to stay in Australia.

The Department of Home Affairs and Immigration Minister Andrew Giles were contacted for comment.

Opposition spokesperson for home affairs Senator James Paterson declined to comment.

This story was first published by the ABC

Do you need help?

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 111.

  • Women’s Refuge For women and children. 0800 733 843
  • Shine – Free call 0508 744 633 domestic abuse helpline for women and men, daily 9am-11pm.
  • Shakti 24-hour Crisis Line for women, children and youth of Asian, African and Middle Eastern origin 0800 742 284: 0800SHAKTI
  • It’s Not OK 0800 456 450
  • Youthline 0800 376 633 or text free 234
  • Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence: Information about how partner and sexual violence affects Rainbow communities
  • Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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