A Fijian man will be deported from New Zealand after seriously burning his then-partner’s young son.
The 28-year-old man, identified only as HF, held the 8-year-old under hot water in an attempt to discipline him.
He also admitted heating a butter knife on a stove and pressing it against the boy’s bare buttocks, twisting three of his fingers back, and hitting him on the shoulder and arms.
The boy suffered deep burns to 20 per cent of his body, including his chest, abdomen, genitalia, buttocks and upper thighs.
He has had nine operations, in which skin grafts were taken from nearly his entire back, and will have to wear a compression suit for several years to help his injuries heal.
HF pleaded guilty in 2018 to causing grievous bodily harm, wounding with intent to injure, and assault on a child.
The district court judge who heard the case said it was a “barbaric” act of “extreme cruelty” and sentenced HF to five years and eight months’ imprisonment.
HF is a resident of New Zealand, but as the offences attracted a prison term of more than five years and occurred within 10 years of him being granted a resident visa, he was issued a deportation liability notice in January this year.
He then appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal on humanitarian grounds.
According to a recently-released decision, the tribunal heard he came to New Zealand from Suva at 13 with his family and later worked as a caregiver for people with disabilities.
When he committed the offences, he was using alcohol as a crutch and “felt everyone was against him” – his parents disapproved of his partner, and he “found it hard to manage” his young victim’s behaviour.
The man said he will “carry the guilt of his crimes for the rest of his life”.
The tribunal also heard evidence from HF’s parents, brother and a psychologist.
It heard HF has symptoms of depression and anxiety which will likely become worse if he is deported. He has spent nearly 15 years in New Zealand and considers it his home.
HF’s father told the tribunal he would have to financially support HF on his return to Fiji and might have to sell his home and business to make ends meet.
Tribunal member Debra Smallholme found HF’s history of depression and anxiety and the impact his deportation would have on his family constituted exceptional humanitarian circumstances.
However, when weighed against the seriousness of his offending, it was not unjust or unduly harsh for him to be deported.
Smallholme declined the man’s appeal.
However, she waived the five-year prohibition on re-entering New Zealand that would normally apply to someone in HF’s position, so that he can visit his mother if her health worsens and she cannot travel to Fiji.