‘I Deserve a Second Chance’: Robber’s Battle to Avoid Deportation

In 2012 the bar manager of the Randwick Golf Club, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, was heading home after closing. We’ll call him John.

The father of two was confronted in the carpark by two men masked and armed men.

“All of a sudden, out of the blue, two people appeared. One had a carving knife, one had a gun,” John told A Current Affair.

Convicted armed robber Pedro Fernandes has fought attempts to deport him to Brazil.

Ordered back inside the club, John was forced to hand over the takings.

“I’ve never actually been in the situation with being held up facing a knife or a gun,” he remembers.

One of those robbers was a Brazilian by the name of Pedro Fernandes.

The Randwick Golf Club robbery saw Fernandes sentenced to four years' jail.

For his crime, Fernandes was sentenced to four years in jail.

Now, the 27-year-old is out and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton wants him kicked out of Australia.

“The community actually wants us, as you say, to cancel the visas of people who are involved in crimes against Australians,” Mr Dutton told 2GB radio host Ray Hadley last week.

"John", the bar manager of the Randwick Golf Club, was confronted by two armed men during the robbery.

“We have a very clear policy that if people are committing crimes and they’re here as a non-citizen they can expect to be deported and we can look at all of the facts in relation to each of the matters, but I believe very strongly that that reflects community standard.”

Even though Fernandes has a criminal record for armed robbery, affray and breaching an intensive corrections order, he took his case to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and won.

AAT Deputy President James Constance said “fair-minded Australians” would want Fernandes to remain on our shores.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton addressed the issue on radio.

“I am of the view that the Australian community would expect he (Fernandes) be given one more chance to show that he can be a productive member of society and provide the care and support his family ­deserves,” Commissioner Constance found.

A Current Affair tracked Fernandes down to a Sydney beachside suburb.

After he’d gone for an early morning jog and a workout on the beach we confronted him.

Fernandes said he believed he deserved a second chance.

“You’ve committed crimes. You’ve been locked up for armed robbery, affray, breaching an ICO, do you really think you’ve got any right to stay in Australia?” I asked him.

“I think I do,” he replied.

“I think I deserve a second chance.”

Fernandes says he wants to stay because Australia is home and he has a seven-year-old daughter who was born here.

“My daughter needs me here,” he told me.

“I know I’ve made mistakes in the past … that’s all I’ve got to say for now.”

Herald Sun journalist Keith Moor has been following the case.

“Being in Australia isn’t a right. You have got to earn that right and you’ve got to be of good behaviour when you are here,” he told A Current Affair.

“Fernandes didn’t just have one chance, he committed a number of crimes over a number of years.”

Immigration Lawyer Simon Jeans is a former member of the AAT.

“I have real concerns that a lot of tribunal members do not have, do not understand community expectations,” he says.

“The main issue they look at is the risk of re-offending, so there has to be either no risk, or it’s so small it’s almost zero.”

So, for now Fernandes has won a reprieve. But the case is back on Peter Dutton’s desk and he can overturn the AAT.

“I feel this is a very easy case for the Minister who is interested in protecting Australians from people who engage in criminal behaviour,” Mr Jeans says.

But even if Peter Dutton overturns the AAT decision, Fernandes can then appeal to the Federal and even the High Court.

“Why do you like it so much here in Australia?” I asked Fernandes.

“Because that’s where I grew up, that’s where my daughter is,” he replied.

“That’s all I’ve got to say for now, thank you.”

John, though, sees it another way.

“Look if it was reversed, if I was over in his country, or a foreign country and I did the same scenario, I mean, quite obviously, they’re going, you know, they’re probably going to deport me,” he said.