Judge Bernard Murphy & colleague overturn Peter Dutton's decision to deport murderer "cause he made the decision to quickly"
Former Slater & Gordon lawyer Bernard "Julia, you bloody beauty" Murphy at work.
The deportation of a convicted wife killer has been overturned because it could not be proven Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton spent more than 11 minutes considering the case.
Frederick Chetcuti, 73, was convicted of murdering his wife in 1993 and sentenced to 24 years' jail.
While behind bars, he was also convicted of assaulting his cellmate and sentenced to another two years in prison, to be served at the same time as his murder sentence.
Chetcuti was born in Malta, and moved to Australia in 1948 when he was two years old.
As his time in jail neared an end in March 2017, Mr Dutton moved to cancel his visa on the grounds he was of bad character in a bid to have him deported.
That decision was appealed to the Federal Court, and the Minister agreed to quash the visa cancellation in the days leading up to the hearing.
But Mr Dutton tried a second time to cancel Chetcuti's visa that same day — which the Federal Court has now decided to overturn on a technicality.
The court heard a brief was "placed on the Minister's desk at about 9:16am on 14 August, 2017", the day the Federal Court would formalise Mr Dutton's consent to having his original decision quashed.
The paperwork was signed off by a judge at 10:14am that day, and the Minister cancelled the visa a second time at 10:25am — 11 minutes later.
Chetcuti's lawyers argued that meant Mr Dutton had not taken the appropriate amount of time to consider the 130 pages of information presented to him, because he was not allowed to make a new decision until the court signed off on dumping his original ruling.
Lawyers for the Minister argued the brief was put on his desk an hour earlier, and suggested he could have begun his reading when that happened.
"The Minister contends that the natural meaning of the words "is on the Minister's desk for consideration" is that he had already commenced considering the material, or would do so shortly," Justices Bernard Murphy and Darryl Rangiah said in their judgment delivered yesterday.
"The first of these interpretations cannot be accepted — the words used suggest that the material was left for the Minister to consider when the Minister was available, not that he had already commenced considering it.
"The second interpretation — that the Minister would commence considering the material shortly — cannot be accepted because the words used give no indication of whether the Minister would, for example, begin his consideration within a few minutes or in an hour."
The court also said no evidence had been put forward by Mr Dutton's lawyers that he started reading the brief earlier, rather a suggestion he would have.
In a two-to-one decision, Justice Rangiah and Justice Murphy upheld Chetcuti's appeal and ordered that Mr Dutton's decision to cancel his visa on character grounds should be quashed.
Here's the complete judgement.
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