Killer may not be deported

Last updated 23:31 27/09/2008

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A South African man who killed his daughter by driving off a cliff will be freed from jail this week and may have his deportation order overturned.

The parole board has decided Garth Abbott can serve the rest of his four-and-a-half-year sentence in the community on the condition that he gets counselling.

Abbott was convicted of manslaughter after he drove off a summit at Auckland's Mt Wellington in August 2005 in his family's four-wheel-drive with his two daughters inside. Brittany, nine, died and Shirvaun, four, was injured.

He was charged with murder but claimed the crash happened because he was distracted by an emotional phone call. He'd had several arguments on his cellphone with his wife. Their relationship had been deteriorating and they'd talked about divorce.

The family was told by Immigration New Zealand they might not get residency because the girls - who were deaf and expected to go blind - would be a burden on health services.

In July the couple asked the board to let Abbott move home, but this was rejected because of a psychologist's concerns about him returning to the family situation that existed before the crash. He has now found another place to live.

When he is released on Wednesday Abbott will have served 19 months of his sentence.

The board said Abbott had behaved well in prison,taking part in courses including a parenting course, and had a stable new home and support network.

His release was backed by his family.

Associate Immigration Minister Shane Jones is now considering whether to overturn a removal order which Immigration New Zealand issued to Abbott in February.

Abbott's wife Mirese and surviving daughter Shirvaun won their bid for permanent residency in May, after Mirese Abbott threatened legal action. Mirese's mother Penny Young refused comment on behalf of the family on Friday from her Mt Wellington home.

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- Sunday Star Times

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