Irish arrests

‘It will destroy us’, family speaks out about son’s imminent deportation

The Irish family of a former Bandidos bikie is despairing at their son’s imminent deportation from Australia under a controversial policy.

Paul Pennie, 46, is awaiting a Federal Court appeal hearing to determine if he will be sent back to a country he barely knows after being sentenced to prison on charges including possession of methylamphetamine with intent to supply.

The Pennie family migrated to Australia in 1980 when Paul was only six. His father Gerry is worried his son’s deportation will have a devastating effect on the close-knit family.

“It would destroy us,” he said.

“He doesn’t know anyone in Ireland.”

Earlier Story: Irish-born ex-bikie faces deportation under controversial policy

Mr Pennie said his son’s battles, which ultimately led to his visa being cancelled in 2016, stemmed from the sudden death of his younger brother and a workplace injury that left him unable to continue his job as a security guard.

The Australian government deported more than 1,000 people between 2016 and 2018 on character grounds, a policy recently criticised by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has cancelled thousands of visas on ‘character’ grounds.

The issue was having a “corrosive” impact on Australia’s relationship” with New Zealand, Ms Ardern said. She argued that deportations should not be enforced after an individual has lived in a country for 10 years.

Gerry Pennie emphasised that his son had never been charged with or engaged in violent crime, and had severed ties with the Bandidos bikie club.

“I know him as my son. He has never laid a hand on anybody. Never,” Mr Pennie said.

His son was allegedly nearly bashed to death by fellow bikie-connected inmates in prison after he refused to participate in a stabbing, his father said.

The Irish-Australian suffers from both mental health issues and heart disease, and is concerned about his ability to access and afford treatment should he be deported.

During Mr Pennie’s 2018 Federal Court hearing, the then Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Petter Dutton, said he accepted that Mr Pennie’s deportation would potentially exacerbate his psychological conditions “given his history of depression and suicidal ideation”, but that he would likely be able to access health support in Ireland as a habitual resident.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

The Pennie family. (From left) Paul, who is facing deportation, his mum Evelyn Pennie, sister Clare Flint, dad Gerry, sister Karen Derrick and brother Keith.

It is uncertain if Mr Pennie would satisfy the conditions necessary to be eligible for social assistance, because factors considered by Ireland’s Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection include the applicant’s intention to live in Ireland for the foreseeable future.

Mr Pennie has no desire to live in Ireland, where he has no ties, and his family is concerned he would not be able to independently establish a new life or find accommodation having been either incarcerated or in a detention centre since 2015.

Paul Pennie has guaranteed work with a friend’s lawn-mowing business if he is allowed to stay in Australia, the family said.

His sister Clare Flint accepted some Australians would believe deportation was necessary as part of a tough stance on crime, but she emphasised that other foreign criminals had avoided expulsion after being sentenced for more serious, violent crimes.

Early this year it was revealed that hundreds of immigrants who had their visas cancelled after committing crimes in Australia have been spared deportation, including a drug trafficker who had spent more than 10 years in prison.

“Put your feet in our shoes,” his sister says. “Everyone’s made mistakes, but Paul’s paying the ultimate price in losing his family.”

Three Irish nationals arrested trying to flee Australia

NSW detectives with the 20-year-old Irish national who was extradited from Victoria to NSW to face charges. Picture: NSW Police

NSW detectives with the 20-year-old Irish national who was extradited from Victoria to NSW to face charges. Picture: NSW Police

Three Irish nationals have been arrested, charged and detained by police over an alleged roofing scam.

One 20-year-old male was extradited from Melbourne to Sydney to face charges relating to the alleged scam.

He was arrested by Australian Federal Police at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport as he tried to board a flight to Shanghai, China.

He, along with two others, were charged by Strike Force Denain, a St George Police Area Command investigation into a series of alleged frauds, targeting elderly home owners. 

On Thursday March 7, another 20-year-old Irish national, bound for the United Kingdom, was arrested at Sydney Airport by Australian Federal Police.

Placed into custody, police allegedly discovered large amounts of cash and jewellery in the arrested man’s luggage.

He was charged with aggravated break and enter and denied police bail.

St George detectives quickly established that an alleged scam was underway and would continue the next day at a home in Bexley in the southern suburbs of Sydney.

It’s alleged the detectives contacted and warned the home owner, a 72-year-old man.

Following further inquiries, police arrested a 22-year-old Irish national at Sydney airport as he tried to board a flight to Qatar at 8.20pm on Saturday March 9.

A search of his luggage allegedly uncovered a large amount of cash and jewellery.

He was charged with fraud and deal in proceeds of crime; and refused police bail.

Refused bail, he was expected to appear today in the Sutherland Local Court.

NSW Police say they are looking for a fourth Irish male.