Dark past of man fighting ‘cruel’ deportation
A GRANDFATHER who has protested his deportation back to Britain via a Change.org petition is a convicted serious offender with a dark past.
News.com.au can reveal that the 58-year-old, who is the subject of a "Keep David with his family" and angry online posts about Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has a conviction for a serious offence.
Mr Degning also has a criminal record for drink driving and theft.
His serious offence dates from 2012 and resulted in a prison sentence being imposed, but news.com.au cannot reveal the details because it is subject to a court suppression order.
Mr Degning moved to Australia as a seven-year-old and has lived here ever since but he is now facing deportation to the country he left 50 years ago as a boy.
Three months ago, Australia Border Force Officers arrived at Mr Degning's Batemans Bay home at 5am, handcuffed him and took him away, according to his family and friends.
Mr Degning is currently in Villawood Detention Centre from where he was due to be deported back to the United Kingdom on Thursday.
The case has now been delayed until next month.
Mr Degning came to Australia in 1968 with his family and has lived here ever since, running his own house painting business and having three children with his wife who works at the hospital.
The Degnings have three grandchildren.
A petition on Change.org calling for the government to "Keep David with his family", has received more than 2000 signatures from supporters who believe Mr Degning is being wrongfully deported.
The petition states that the Immigration Department has made a judgment of "bad character" against Mr Degning.
"Dave is one of those people that everyone knows, but he has gotten into trouble with the law over the years," Jodie Warren, who has known Mr Degning for 30 years told RiotACT.
"When he was about 21 he was arrested for theft and spent a few months in jail, since then he has had a number of DUI (Driving Under the Influence) convictions but hasn't been sent to jail."
Ms Warren said that Mr Degning was punished for his crimes at the time and has since gone on to be an upstanding citizen.
However, news.com.au understands that Mr Degning received a suspended prison sentence for his sex offence.
In regards to his citizenship status, Mr Degning reportedly believed he and his family were "absorbed citizens" when they arrived in Australia 50 years ago.
Ms Warren said that the Batemans Bay man and his family have dealt with tragedy over this years and this threat of deportation has become "too much for them".
"He hasn't had the easiest life, it's been one bad hand after another," she said.
"Dave's son was killed tragically in an accident when he was two and his daughter's husband has recently died, so this is just too much for them."
Thousands of people have signed the petition, offering support for Mr Degning and sharing their outrage at the situation.
"David doesn't claim to be perfect, none of us are we are all human and make mistakes. But that said he has already dealt with his mistakes, which do not in any way warrant the excessive attempt to deport him to a country foreign to him that he left with his family as a seven-year-old child," one friend wrote.
"A good, fully employed family man should not be deported for a mistake he made (and was punished for) when he was in his 20s," another said.
One person wrote that it was "ludicrous, cruel and unethical" to deport a man whose whole life and family is in Australia.
Another drew similarities between Mr Degning's situation and the citizenship scandal that rocked the Australian parliament earlier this year.
"I acknowledge this is only one side of the case here but this action taken is truly over the top," the person wrote.
"I didn't hear of any politicians being marched out of their homes in handcuffs when their citizenship was under question."
The Department of Home Affairs issued a statement to news.com.au, saying "the Australian Government takes seriously its responsibility to protect the community from the risk of harm arising from non-citizens who choose to engage in criminal activity or other serious conduct of concern".
"There are strong provisions under section 501 of the Migration Act that allow the Minister or a delegate to refuse or cancel a visa if the person is considered to not be of good character.
"A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including but not limited to where a non-citizen has a substantial criminal record.
"Foreign nationals who do not hold a valid visa will be subject to detention. The Department does not comment on individual cases."