War refugee faces deportation over assault at Gatton
A WAR refugee set to be booted out of Australia was given a few special moments by a compassionate judge to warmly embrace his baby son in the dock of an Ipswich courtroom.
The Nigerian born man, 31, handed the toddler back to a police officer before being led back into custody - his fate to be determined by Australian Immigration.
The toddler intermittently played on the floor of the courtroom behind his father, who cannot be named for legal reasons, and was also held by his mother during the court proceedings.
The man, who lived in Gatton, pleaded guilty before Judge Alexander Horneman-Wren SC to two counts of assaulting a woman at Gatton on January 19, 2017; unlawful assault causing bodily harm; and contravening a domestic violence order.
Crown prosecutor Farook Anoozer said that at the time of the assaults, the female victim was his then partner, and 30 weeks' pregnant with his child.
In one incident, the man grabbed her hand and tried to pull a ring from her, twisting her finger.
The second incident involved the man putting his arm around her neck - his forearm across her throat.
Mr Anoozer said that in her efforts to push the man off, she struggled to breathe and she was scared. The man also bit her on the hand.
The woman then said she'd give him the ring and took it off her finger.
Mr Anoozer said the man's prior criminal history included six convictions for wilful damage with the man sentenced to six months' jail and given immediate parole release.
He later went to police making allegations the female victim had stolen money from him.
Mr Anoozer said the man was taken into custody last year and held in immigration detention for many months in Western Australia.
In total, he'd spent 14 months in custody and had been brought to the Ipswich court from immigration detention for sentencing.
Mr Anoozer said because of the unusual circumstances of the case the man was being held by immigration when (in other circumstances) would have been released.
Judge Horneman-Wren said the circumstances were "far from ordinary” and he'd read the defence submission from barrister Steven Jones about what the man had gone through in his life.
During the case, a woman seated in the dock nursed a toddler. The court was told that this was the man's son. Noting he had previous jail sentences for failing to stop for police and dangerous driving, Judge Horneman-Wren said the man had a poor traffic record.
"You have had a terribly disruptive life...” he said. "With a civil war in your country, your experiences were horrific. Those of us who have never been exposed to such horror can never understand.
"You fled, and for years were in a refugee camp in Guinea before receiving asylum in Australia.”
Judge Horneman-Wren said it was clear alcohol was a major problem. Given the man's horrific experiences, this would help explain why he took refuge in alcohol, but was no excuse for his offences.
He said in his opinion 8 ½ months now spent in detention was sufficient punishment given he was likely to be deported.
Consulting with police security, Judge Horneman-Wren asked if the needed time together with his baby son.
This was granted, the toddler tenderly embraced for a final time by his dad.