Warning on killer coming back to NZ

AMY MAAS
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2013

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A murderer whom authorities warn could kill again will be deported from Australia to New Zealand - but unless laws change here he is unlikely to be monitored.

The spotlight is on public access to an individual's criminal history after the murder of Christchurch girl Jade Bayliss.

The 13-year-old was strangled by her mother's former boyfriend, but the family did not know he had previously killed an Australian teen.

Justice Minister Judith Collins is considering law changes to allow better disclosure of information between the two countries.

She is keen to allow police to flag criminal backgrounds to family members and others in close relationships, which did not happen in the Bayliss case, but the issue is complicated by privacy laws. A public offenders' register is also being considered as part of the changes.

Kiwi Michael Heron, 41, was jailed in Australia in 1996 after stabbing a man to death in a bar fight. He is serving a minimum of 14 years in jail and had extra terms added for repeated acts of violence in prison.

When Heron is released in November 2014, he will be deported because he doesn't pass the good character test needed to remain there.

Heron's violence in prison stemmed from stress and anxiety, and a transition back into normal life would also "very likely" expose him to stresses, the tribunal said.

"It is obvious from the nature of Heron's past offences that very significant harm, even death, could be the consequence of any re-offending," the decision said.

New Zealand Police confirmed Heron would not necessarily be monitored when he got home, but police would "obtain as much relevant information as possible about a person's background".

"If a person has legitimately completed their sentence served in another country and been released, New Zealand authorities have no legal mandate to impose further conditions," the spokesman said.

"However, on their arrival in New Zealand, we will seek to engage with the individual to manage any risks they may present."

Heron was born in Samoa, and his family came to New Zealand when he was 1. He spent most of his adult life in Australia, and has served several prison terms for assault, theft, and illegal use of vehicles.

The tribunal said Heron wanted to rebuild his life and had the support of his 18-year-old son, his mother and siblings who live in Australia.

None of his family members plans to return to New Zealand, and he has few family members here.

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- Sunday Star Times

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