7 Sep 2017

Dental clinic murderer to be deported

9:08 am on 7 September 2017

A man who killed his partner when he set fire to the dentist surgery where she worked will be deported to Korea when he is released from prison.

Inside Paremoremo Prison

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

In 2007, Chul Jun Cho confronted Misook Kim and his brother-in-law, a dentist, after finding they had spent $15,000 of his money at a casino.

He poured flammable liquid around the West Auckland clinic, lit the match and Ms Kim could not escape the flames.

Cho was jailed for life with a non-parole period of 10 years for murder and arson.

The Parole Board will decide later this month if he should be released.

He appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal, but it upheld the decision to deport him after his release.

It ruled that his offending outweighed compassionate circumstances, including that he would be separated from his family in New Zealand.

"Ms Kim's death was more than a tragedy. The manner in which she died was gruesome and horrific.

"Her death altered the trajectory of the life of her daughter, who is now living in Korea."

Cho told the tribunal he was distressed after finding his partner had taken the money, which he had borrowed from an associate to pay for his stepdaughter's school fees, and spent it during a visit to SkyCity with his sister and brother-in-law, Dr Andy Moon.

Ms Kim worked as a receptionist at Dr Moon's dental clinic in Henderson.

"The appellant stated that his partner did not come home that night," said the tribunal notes.

"He later discovered that his sister, Yeon Jun Cho, and her husband, Dr Moon, had taken his partner to the casino, where she gambled, and lost, most of the $15,000 he had given her for her daughter's school fees.

"Ms Kim had loaned some of the money to Dr Moon, which he paid back, however, most of the money had been lost and was unrecoverable.

"The following day, he visited Dr Moon's dental surgery and confronted his brother-in-law and his partner regarding the loss of the money.

"To teach them a lesson, the appellant poured flammable liquid around the clinic and, when he lit the match, the fumes ignited and the clinic was quickly engulfed in flames.

"Both the appellant and Dr Moon were able to escape through the front entrance, but Ms Kim died at the scene."

Cho told the tribunal he did not mean to kill her and could not reach her through the fire, but he urged her to escape through a nearby emergency exit door.

He then fled the building and used a chair to break a window, but he was beaten back by the fire.

He told the tribunal his own two children's mother had not been there for them and if he was deported, he feared he would be lost to them forever.

"That would be unfair because [my] children are innocent and they have been waiting for [me] to be released from prison so [we] can resume living together," he told the tribunal.

Dr Moon also gave evidence and said he had forgiven him for what he had done.

But the tribunal said considering the seriousness of the offending, it would not be unduly harsh to deport him.

The Parole Board said Cho had been before a parole panel in February and his release would be considered again next week.