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A Manjimup man given just months to live after a terminal cancer diagnosis walked free on Monday afternoon after spending the last four years locked up and fighting deportation back to a country he left as a baby.
Robert Taylor, 49, was just 10 months old when his family moved to Australia from the UK.
Robert Taylor has been released from detention after receiving a bridging visa.
He created a life in WA and went on to have six children and 10 grandchildren.
He was convicted of aggravated burglary in 2019 and wound up with a 3½-year prison sentence.
After being released on parole halfway through his sentence, Taylor was picked up by immigration officers and locked up in a detention centre. He was told his Australian visa had been revoked and he should await deportation back to England – a country he did not even remember.
“I know I did wrong,” he told WAtoday in January. “I hit a low point in my life and made some bad choices. But no one got physically hurt, and since then I’ve turned my life around.
“I’ve done my time, and now I just want to go home to my children. I have always been there for them. The thought of going back to the UK … that’s when suicidal thoughts go into my head. I couldn’t be away from my children that long.”
Taylor has been fighting the visa revocation, with appeals and letters to ministers and visa officials.
Then in April he was given a devastating lung cancer diagnosis while in detention and started chemotherapy.
He was also told he would have just 12 months left to live.
Taylor wanted to spend his last few months with his children and grandchildren, a wish he was granted on Monday afternoon when he was given a bridging visa allowing him to stay in Australia temporarily.
Speaking from Perth Royal Hospital moments after he received the news, Taylor said he felt “awesome”.
He said he was heading home to Manjimup on Tuesday where he would be giving his children and grandkids “a big cuddle”.
Robert Taylor is looking forward to seeing his children and grandchildren.
Taylor’s story highlighted the questions surrounding so-called “draconian” law of deportation after incarceration.
Human rights advocate Gerry Georgatos took on Taylor’s case to try and fight for him to stay in Australia, stating at the time that the laws were “an abomination”.
“The draconian laws discriminate against impoverished people, who’ve often spent most of their lives here,” he said.
“The majority don’t have the capacity to adequately challenge their deportation in the tribunals.
“The impacts are harrowing for children of fathers and mothers deported. Also, for the deportees sent to faraway lands that they’ve lost ties to or never actually had any ties other than the fact of their birth.”
Georgatos asked: “When is the slate clean?
“When a carceral sentence is complete, penance is complete and the redemptorist in all of us should prevail. To argue otherwise is to defy the legal proposition of a penance as served,” he said.
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