A British citizen will not be deported after serving 25 years behind bars.
Warning: Some readers may find details in this story distressing
More than 50 people who have served a sentence have been deported from New Zealand so far this year – but a released axe murderer will not be one of them.
British citizen, Anthony Phillip Hitchcock, became one of the first in New Zealand to be sentenced to life imprisonment with preventative detention.
In September 1995, he brutally murdered an Oamaru woman after striking her five times with an axe, before waking up her 12-year-old daughter to gloat about his crime.
He then tried to rape the girl, subjecting her to a two-hour ordeal.
The 65-year-old was released on parole last year, and the New Zealand Parole Board confirmed that while his curfew would be lifted, he remained subject to parole conditions including electronic monitoring, and not to possess alcohol or drugs.
Previous reporting on Hitchcock, who served 25 years behind bars, noted he was liable for deportation after serving his sentence, but an Immigration New Zealand spokesperson confirmed that was not the case.
As Hitchcock arrived in New Zealand prior to the need for British subjects to apply for residence, for those arriving pre April 1974.
By the time of his 1996 conviction, he was subject to the Immigration Act 1987. That meant foreign nationals could not be deported on the basis of criminal convictions if they were granted residence – or did not need to apply for residence and had arrived in New Zealand – before that Act came into force.
Hitchcock’s first parole report, in 2006, revealed that the prisoner himself expressed a desire to return to the UK.
‘’He tells us today that it is his plan to return to the United Kingdom when he is finally released.’’
‘’He remains a citizen of that country.’’
‘’He is here under a permanent resident’s permission, but he plans to return, particularly in deference to the views of his victims when he is finally released.’’
The names of those victims, the mother and daughter, remain suppressed.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment worked with the Department of Corrections and other agencies to manage the cases of prisoners liable for deportation on their release.
That included whether the person should be detained in custody, or if a non-custodial deportation could proceed.
‘’If a custodial deportation is required, we discuss with the airline what their preference is for escorting either by NZ Police or the airline’s own escort providers,’’ the spokesperson said.
So far this year 53 people have been deported after completing sentences, the lowest total over the last six years, and when compared with 83 in 2018.
Meanwhile, the number of people deported from New Zealand so far this year was 159, compared with 466 in 2018.
That recent drop was also reflected in the number of self-deportations – people unlawfully in New Zealand who depart of their own volition – with 638 in 2018 compared with 199 so far this year.