The Federal Court has thrown out a senior bikie's bid to avoid deportation to New Zealand, finding there was nothing unreasonable about a government minister's decision to cancel his visa on character grounds.
Then-immigration minister David Coleman ordered Sosefo Kauvaka Lelei Tu'uta Katoa's removal from Australia in September 2019, deciding the gangster should be turfed out "in the national interest".
Tu'uta Katoa, the Canberra Comanchero sergeant-at-arms at the time in question, had been convicted of multiple offences including a serious assault that had attracted a jail sentence.
He was also on remand, facing various charges including bomb possession, blackmail and affray.
The ACT Magistrates Court heard on the day of the minister's decision that police further suspected Tu'uta Katoa of involvement in as many as 28 gang-related shootings and 33 arsons.
Given five weeks to seek a review of the decision to cancel his visa, Tu'uta Katoa, now 28, missed the deadline by about three weeks.
This led his lawyers to apply to the Federal Court for an extension of time in which to argue Mr Coleman had acted contrary to the presumption of innocence by taking into account unproven charges when he concluded Tu'uta Katoa posed a risk of reoffending.
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In his judgment on Tuesday, Justice John Nicholas said he had not been persuaded this argument had any merit.
He said it was apparent that Mr Coleman had found a connection between Tu'uta Katoa's membership of the bikie gang and the alleged conduct, as the minister had explicitly called it, that had given rise to the unproven charges.
But case law showed there was no issue with this, and the minister had also looked at Tu'uta Katoa's rise to the senior rank of sergeant-at-arms and his proven criminal history.
"The minister found that [Tu'uta Katoa's] membership of the Comanchero OMCG heightened the risk of harm [he] posed to the community and that his conduct as a member of the Comanchero OMCG demonstrated a lack of respect for law and order in Australia," Justice Nicholas said.
"Those findings did not depend upon an acceptance by the minister that [Tu'uta Katoa] had in fact committed the criminal offences with which he had been charged."
The judge accordingly dismissed Tu'uta Katoa's application and ordered him to pay costs.
Tu'uta Katoa's current whereabouts are not stated in the judgment but he was being held on Christmas Island as recently as January, when he appeared in a New Zealand television news story about conditions in offshore detention.
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