Adelaide man Paul Burgess faces deportation after two months with Comancheros bikie gang
A man who spent two months as a member of the Comancheros bikie gang four years ago is facing deportation back to the UK, where he has not been since he was two.
- Paul Burgess moved to Australia with his family in 1986 when he was two
- He was a member of the Comancheros for two months in 2013
- He's now facing deportation and is being held in an immigration detention centre
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton stripped Adelaide man Paul Burgess, 33, of his permanent residency in June last year as part of a nationwide purge to deport serious criminals without citizenship.
But in September last year when Mr Burgess appealed against the visa cancellation and won, Mr Dutton instantly re-issued the cancellation, this time with no reference to his bikie links.
Instead it relied on four convictions including driving dangerously without a licence and disorderly behaviour, but the combined sentences of each of Mr Burgess's crimes reach the 12-month threshold for deportation.
Incorrect charge included
In the initial case against Mr Burgess the department made an error.
"It included a recent conviction that indicated Paul had assaulted a police officer. We conducted some checks into that, and found that it was completely incorrect," said Mitch Simmons, Mr Burgess's lawyer.
"He'd never been charged or convicted of such an offence, it was simply an administrative error of the courts.
"The courts confirmed that the admin officer who was entering that offence had essentially clicked the wrong button."
Government targets outlaw bikie gangs
Mr Dutton's move was part of a targeted campaign to disrupt the operations of the country's most notorious criminal organisations.
Of the more than 2,000 foreign nationals who have had their visas cancelled since December 2014, 130 were bikies.
"We are determined to, through this operation, target people who have been involved, in particular at higher levels of outlaw motorcycle gangs," Mr Dutton said.
"What we have done, in targeting the leadership of the outlaw motorcycle gang structure, has been to disrupt that process, their organisations, and that has had a massive impact, and that is the advice from the intelligence and law enforcement agencies."
But many who have spent their entire lives in Australia are now facing deportation to countries they no longer have ties to — some with questionable links to organised crime.
'I don't even know how to ride'
Mr Burgess arrived in Australia with his English parents in 1986.
"Paul came here when he was two years old. He's now 33, so he's been here 31 years," his fiancée Megan Ferris said.
"Paul's childhood was definitely not a secure family unit, to say the least.
"He remembers arguing, he remembers being home alone for days on end."
By his late 20s Mr Burgess had developed a problem with alcohol and gathered a string of low-level convictions for drink driving, avoiding arrest, and breaching bail.
For two months in 2013 he was a member of the Comancheros outlaw bikie club.
"Paul's not a bikie," Ms Ferris said.
"I don't believe someone who's been one for two months could be classified a key member.
"Has he killed someone? Is he a national threat? No. Is he a drug dealer? No. Is he the face of organised crime? No. Has he made poor decisions, and done stupid things? Yes, and he will say yes he has."
Speaking to 7.30 by phone from an immigration detention centre in Perth, Mr Burgess said he joined the gang at the urging of a high school friend.
"I started hanging around there, and it was only for a couple of months. How do you say that's a bikie? A bikie's someone that rides a bike around, I don't even know how to ride."