Nepalese man's mistake may cost him his future
Last updated 16:23, January 30 2017
"The loss of a licence is just a small thing in comparison to the real threat of deportation," Sarjana Duwal says. Her husband Dipendra Pradhan face deportation after driving drunk.
He drove drunk and got caught.
For most, this would result in a slap on the wrist and a fine. For Dipendra Pradhan, it may cost him a lot more.
He was arrested for drink driving and failing to stop for police. Later, he would be discharged without conviction but Immigration New Zealand still says he has to leave.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ
"Going back to Nepal means more struggle. I won't get a job that easy there, the same goes with my wife. It's really hard to find a job there. The life will be really hard for us going back. That's the reason I'm trying to find a legal way to stay in New Zealand."
Dipendra had been living in New Zealand for about a year on a partnership visa when red and blue lights flashed behind him.
He had been partying at a backpackers in Tauranga. The 29-year-old, who typically drinks only beer, had indulged in what he says may have been whiskey with his new friends.
His wife, Sarjana Duwal, who was originally in New Zealand on a student visa and is now on a work visa, was at work.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/FAIRFAX NZ
Dipendra Pradhan has been served a deportation order despite having his drink driving charge overturned. His wife Sarjana Duwal does not want the pair to be apart.
Around 1am Dipendra decided to drive home.
Police attempted to pull him over, he stopped a short while later, saying he didn't initially see the flashing police lights. According to the police report he smelt of alcohol. He was charged with driving while intoxicated and failing to stop for police.
He has no previous convictions. He was fined $860 for driving while intoxicated and $500 for failing to stop for police, as well as court costs. He was also disqualified from driving.
About a month later a letter arrived. He was served with a deportation liability notice, meaning he may be sent back home.
Back home Dipendra and Sarjana were a medium-income family but if they were to return now it wouldn't be the same.
Dipendra is from the Bhaktapur district of Kathmandu, Nepal. Dipendra had his own office where he worked as a website developer.
He was supporting Sarjana's studies. She had applied for a student visa in 2014 but after a year, they still hadn't heard anything. The pair wanted her to study in New Zealand because they had heard it had a good education system. Once she qualified Dipendra was going to study IT.
Then the earth shook.
"We just see blood," Sarjana said. "People crying, dead bodies and dust. Then we tried to reach our family … all the roads were blocked. We had to climb over houses to get to my mum. She was crying.
"In one day we went from medium to poor."
They lived in a tent for a few months before Sarjana's visa was finally granted.
New Zealand was going to be a new life for the couple.
"I always want to give my wife a very good education so that she can get a bright future. Because of my bad mistake it's all over."
Sarjana keeps looking out the window, waiting for police to arrive and take her husband away. "The loss of a licence is just a small thing in comparison to the real threat of deportation," she says.
They have been trying to fight for Dipendra to stay.
"Going back to Nepal means more struggle," Dipendra says. "I won't get a job that easy there, the same goes with my wife. It's really hard to find a job there. The life will be really hard for us going back. That's the reason I'm trying to find a legal way to stay in New Zealand."
He was speaking with an immigration adviser but, after unsuccessful attempts, he was referred to Tauranga barrister Ned Burke. Burke believed that if Dipendra had the conviction overturned he might have a chance to stay.
"It was clear to me that the grounds for the deportation notice was the conviction," Burke said.
"With a great deal of confidence I thought that if we succeeded in overturning the convictions that would have a positive knock-on effect on his immigration status."
Burke managed to get the charges overturned in October.
"Under section 106, there's a subsection there that says that a discharge without conviction is the same as acquittal. He has no convictions whatsoever, so on that basis I was very confident that Immigration New Zealand would have to be reasonable [and] quash the whole thing."
But last week he received another letter. It was a deportation order.
A statement from Immigration New Zealand assistant general manager Peter Devoy said that although Dipendra was discharged without conviction, he pleaded guilty to the offences he was charged with.
"An immigration officer therefore had sufficient reason to make him liable for deportation under section 157 of the Immigration Act 2009."
"I got a lesson," Dipendra says. "I regret that day. After that day I haven't touched a drink. I made a plan that I would not touch alcohol ever in my life because it spoiled my life. That's the lesson I got.
"I would just like at least a chance to show that I am not that person and that I can do better."
- April 25, 2015: Massive earth quake hits Kathmandu
- June 2015: Dipendra and wife Sarjana come to NZ
- April 22, 2016: Dipendra gets drunk at a Nepalese celebration in Tauranga and drives home
- April 28 - June 24: Convicted of drink driving and failing to stop for police
- July 6: Dipendra is served with a deportation Liability Notice
- July 7: Dipendra instructs an immigration adviser to help him resulting in a good reason (not to deport) request being filed with INZ
- July 27 2016: Dipendra applies for a visitor visa
- August 29: INZ decline it - highlighting the fact of conviction in Tauranga DC as a reason
- September 26: INZ write to Dipendra regarding his visitor visa application outlining that they had issues with granting him a visa because of convictions but indicating that they had not yet made a decision and they would continue to assess his application.
- October 27: After a hearing, Dipendra is discharged without conviction on his drink driving and failing to stop charges. In its decision the court referred to a "strong humanitarian aspect which is rare" in cases before the courts
- November 14: INZ informed of court decision and asked that deportation Liability notice be cancelled
- December: INZ compliance confirmed that notwithstanding the court decision, its decision stands and Dipendra must leave.
- January 26, 2017: Deportation Order sent