Convicted Samoan allowed to remain

Last updated 19:08 02/09/2014

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A Samoan national jailed over an underage sexual offence and convicted on multiple drink-drive charges has won the right to stay in New Zealand because of his devotion to a severely autistic boy.

Siaipili Galuvao, 45, appealed to the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT) against deportation, which had been ordered because of his conviction for indecently assaulting a girl between 12 and 16 years of age and driving offences.

IPT member Martin Treadwell’s decision reveals the harsh nature of what amounts of poverty in South Auckland.

He said Galuvao’s case was ‘‘clearly an exceptional circumstance of a humanitarian nature’’ because he was involved in the care of one of his sister’s sons, Epati, 13, who suffers from autism and attends a special school.

‘‘(Epati) does not understand reasoning and the family need to adhere to a rigid schedule of routines which are acceptable to Epati,’’ the decision said.  ‘‘He cannot be negotiated with.’’ 

Caring for him is a full-time commitment for the family and they cannot let him be with anybody else, other than Galuvao, his sister Akata said.

‘‘He needs his uncle to be in his very very small circle of people that he feels safe with.’’ 

 He cannot be left alone as he deals with frustrations with violence toward himself and others.

Galuvao helps out with his sister’s household bills.

‘‘When their power was cut off because they could not pay the bill, (Galuvao) paid the arrears and had the power put back on for them at a cost of $550,’’ the IPT decision said. He buys food and provides building materials, as well as clothing and bedding.

Treadwell noted that Epati was fixated on the computer and that Galuvao pays the ‘‘significant internet bills’’.

‘‘I could not have made it this far if it wasn’t for Siaipili,’’ the sister said in evidence.

‘‘We need Siaipili. I need my brother, for emotional support. Raising an autistic child is stressful and tiring.’’ 

Galuvao also sends $250 a month, out of a weekly salary of $800, to help his brother’s family in Samoa.

Galuvao had been in New Zealand since 1995 but was removed for overstaying. He returned legally but was convicted for drink-driving several times.

In 2011 he was convicted of sexually offending after he entered the bedroom of a 12-year-old girl, while drunk. He lay on the bed and kissed her. He then stood up and removed his trousers at which point she left the room to fetch her father.

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He was further convicted of breath alcohol offences before entering a relationship in 2012 with Chanel Kasi, who has no right to live in Samoa. Deportation would mean permanent separation as she also has breast cancer and a heart valve replacement.

‘‘(Galuvao) acknowledges that he has an alcohol problem. He knows that he must stop drinking,’’ Treadwell said.

Galuvao’s current employer said he had been changed by jail.

Of the sexual offending Treadwell said even the judge who tried the case in court ruled that the offending was at the lower end of the scale. Galuvao had been drinking all day and had no memory of it.

Treadwell ruled that the chance of re-offending, if Galuvao remains unaffected by alcohol, was low and by a ‘‘very narrow margin’’ he could stay in New Zealand.

- Stuff

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