Australia: Iraqi refugee with 15-year criminal history and serious risk of re-offending avoids deportation, March 13, 2018. (Archive link)

A drug-addicted Iraqi refugee with an “impressive” 15-year criminal history, an “apparent inability to work” and a “significant risk” of reoffending has been spared deportation.

The ruling came after the Administrative Appeals Tribunal found he would not be able to access adequate mental health treatment in his home country.

But the AAT rejected a number of other excuses advanced by the man in his bid to stay, including that he faced persecution because he was homosexual and had converted to Christianity, finding there was “no evidence” to substantiate the claims.

The 44-year-old, known only as MAH, arrived in Australia by boat in 1999, and within 10 years had acquired a “substantial” criminal record with convictions for at least 14 offences including drugs charges as well as assault and intimidation, for which he received suspended 12-month prison sentences.

In one 2009 incident, he threatened to shoot a patron at a Nowra pub, headbutted another and had to be evicted from the venue twice.

In 2010, he was issued a “formal warning” by the then Immigration Minister that further offending may result in cancellation of his visa. Despite this, he subsequently racked up 14 more convictions for offences including larceny and unauthorised entry, for which he served two concurrent prison sentences of 12 months.

A police fact sheet described MAH as having a drug habit funded by “continual property-related offences”. Despite having worked as a formwork carpenter in the past, he has been receiving a disability support pension since 2014.

His visa was cancelled in December 2016 on character grounds and he was taken into immigration detention in March last year. He was placed on the methadone drug treatment program while awaiting deportation at Villawood.

In July last year, a nurse deemed him medically “unfit to travel” to Christmas Island due to his ongoing methadone treatment and chronic leg ulcers, leading to the possibility of indefinite detention unless Immigration Minister Peter Dutton’s decision to cancel his visa was set aside.

In overturning the decision this week, AAT senior member Peter Taylor SC (pictured) found MAH’s offences were “impressive in their 15-year time span, number and diversity” and “taken together they convey the impression of a person who either has no real subjective commitment to, or very problematic ability to achieve, a law-abiding existence”….