20 Nov 2015

Killer reported among deportation arrivals

7:04 pm on 20 November 2015

A killer who dumped his girlfriend's body in a bin is reported to be among 12 Christmas Island deportees who are now back in New Zealand.

The charter plane on Christmas Island waiting to take the New Zealand detainees home tomorrow.

The charter plane on Christmas Island that flew the detainees back to NZ. Photo: RNZ / John Campbell

The group of New Zealand citizens, who have criminal records and had been detained on Australia's notorious Christmas Island, arrived in Auckland on a charter flight yesterday.

Richard Peter Coburn, 32, spent five years in jail for the manslaughter of his Sunshine Coast girlfriend Justine Jones.

Investigators were unable to determine how she had died because her body was so badly damaged, after being put into a neighbour's bin and going through a rubbish truck's compacter.

The Department of Corrections refused to confirm whether Coburn was now in New Zealand, citing privacy and the need for reintegration. It also declined to answer questions about how he was being monitored under the new regime introduced this week by Parliament.

The offices of both the Justice Minister and the Police Minister told RNZ they did not have this information.

John Key (file)

Prime Minister John Key Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister John Key said he did not have any details about the individuals on yesterday's flight.

He said the government was comfortable the best possible protections were in place for dealing with the people Australia was deporting to New Zealand.

The government's new legislation meant serious offenders would be monitored, he said.

"These are, as I pointed out in the past, quite dangerous people potentially.

"We have a responsibility to make sure that we protect New Zealanders as best as we practically can, so that the oversight provisions are the same as if the person had actually been in a New Zealand Corrections facility."

Justine Jones' mother Kathleen Jones told Checkpoint she was angry Coburn had been released on parole and was free to start a new life after spending so little time in jail.

"It's terrible, the fact is that he's going to be looked after, protected all the way, and god help the citizens of New Zealand."

She said Coburn had never admitted his guilt or apologised to the family, and she wished he could be in jail for another five years "to maybe [gain] some maturity, grow some brain cells".

Ms Jones said she did not know her daughter's killer was a New Zealander until she was told by a reporter he had been sent to Christmas Island.

She was also unaware he would be allowed to appeal against the revocation of his special category visa and could potentially return to Australia, she said.

Family members give further details

The partner of one of the 12 detainees deported to New Zealand yesterday said they had most of their belongings taken from them before leaving Australia.

The woman, who RNZ has agreed not to name, said her partner, who had already lost most of his clothes when he was transferred to the island, was only allowed to take a small plastic bag with him to New Zealand.

"They were given, I believe $100 or $200. They're in a hotel in a specific area there only for a week and after a week they're basically on their own," she said.

"They've got to find accommodation [and] I guess they're going have to try and go through WINZ [Work and Income], they've got to try and open bank accounts - these are all the factors, you just send someone back to a country and dump them at the airport, it's just not that easy."

The woman said her partner had no family or support left in New Zealand.

A fence at a detention centre on Christmas Island

A fence around Australia's detention centre on Christmas Island. Photo: AFP

The mother of another deportee said at least he would be entitled to state support, which he had not been able to access in Australia.

The Queensland resident, who RNZ has also agreed not to name, said her son struggled with mental illness.

She said he spent stints living on the streets in Australia with no access to health services or benefits.

"I'm hoping the New Zealand government will step up and look after the detainees who went there, and at least I know that he'll be able to receive benefits and get the help he needs over there, and get some money in his pocket."

The woman said, as the sole carer of her elderly mother, she was unable to visit her son in New Zealand, and she feared she would not see him again for years.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection said any New Zealander whose appeal was successful could return to Australia and would be granted a new visa on arrival, provided they had not reoffended.

In response to questions about reports that deportees were handcuffed during the flight to Auckland, she said restraints were "used where appropriate for the safety and security of detainees, staff and the aircraft".

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