A convicted murderer has been released from detention and spared deportation, with blessing of the mother of man he was jailed for killing.
Mark Basa was 16 when he was convicted of the 2005 stabbing murder of Zane McCready in Newcastle.
Over the past four years he has been in immigration detention, waiting in limbo as he fought deportation.
His father Richard Basa told the ABC he had no idea his son’s release was imminent, when he got a phone call from his lawyer last Thursday.
“I was in shock — Mark’s lawyer said get a car and get to Sydney, your boy is coming home to Newcastle,” he said.
“I asked him to bring my boy home and he did.”
Mark Basa’s lawyer, migration law expert Jason Donnelly, said he almost fell off his chair when he heard the news himself.
“I had to re-read that email about three times before I actually believed it,” he said.
“(Mark and I) had a really nice personal talk over video camera and there were tears … of shock — but of great happiness.”
A fight to remain in Australia
Mark Basa was convicted of killing Mr McCready, an Air Force technician, in a brawl in Newcastle in 2005.
He was given a 16-year maximum jail term, and was released on parole after 12 and a half years.
But there was a catch — he did not walk out to freedom.
He was taken straight to Sydney’s Villawood Detention Centre, where he stayed until being sent to Christmas Island last year.
On three occasion, previous Department of Home Affairs ministers and departmental officials recommended he be deported — despite recommendations against it by the the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), on humanitarian grounds.
The AAT said Australia would breach humanitarian laws if they sent him back, due to a chronic pancreatic condition and tribal warfare that put his life at risk.
Meeting with Zane Macready’s mother
Mark Basa arrived back in Newcastle on Saturday.
He thanked his supporters and said he planned to meet face-to-face with Zane Macready’s mother, who also fought against his deportation.