Sex offender loses bid to stop deportation

Jodie Stephens

A lawyer representing sex offender David Degning has urged Australians to "get behind one of their own" after the NSW tradesman lost a Federal Court bid to prevent his deportation.

Mr Degning, who emigrated from the United Kingdom as a seven-year-old, had sought a judicial review of a decision by Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to cancel his visa on character grounds.

The minister in his January decision took into account the 57-year-old's conviction for having sexual intercourse with a mentally impaired victim and a lengthy criminal history which included drink-driving and assault.

Federal Court Justice Alan Robertson on Tuesday dismissed Mr Degning's application to stop his deportation in a ruling that "devastated" the tradesman's family, according to his lawyer.

Stephen Blanks, who is also president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, took aim at Mr Dutton for enforcing a "cruel and vindictive policy".

"It's time for the community to get behind one of their own and tell the minister it's just not acceptable to the Australian people to break up families in this way," Mr Blanks told reporters in Sydney.

He acknowledged his client's criminal history but said he'd already been punished and done his time - serving a suspended sentence for the 2009 sex offence.

"He was not a threat to the Australian community such that imprisonment was appropriate or necessary," Mr Blanks said.

"It's just wrong for the minister to say that protection of the Australian community requires David's removal."

Mr Dutton in his original decision noted a sentencing judge found Mr Degning's sex offending was at the "lower end of the criminality within the section" and he was unlikely to re-offend in a similar way.

However, the minister agreed with the judge's remark that it was a very serious offence and ultimately found there was still a risk - albeit low - of reoffending.

He considered Mr Degning's decades-long residency in the country and "substantial ties" to the community but said protecting Australians outweighed those factors.

Mr Degning, in his court application, unsuccessfully argued he was denied procedural fairness and the minister's decision was "illogical, irrational and legally unreasonable".

The judge rejected his grounds for review and said the minister's conclusions were reasonably open to him.

Mr Blanks said his client, who is in immigration detention in Villawood, had no family back in the UK and "doesn't know what he will do".

He said they would look at Tuesday's judgment closely and consider an appeal.