A Northern Territory judge has told a 63-year-old Alice Springs man who admitted to supplying cannabis that it would not be “much of a hardship” for him to be sent back to the Netherlands, despite him having left the country when he was six months old.
- A 63-year-old was sentenced after pleading guilty to charges of possessing and supplying cannabis earlier this year
- He now faces possible deportation to his birth country the Netherlands, though he left when he was six months old and has never been back
- The judge said deportation, if it happened, would not be a hardship as many people speak English there
John Van Der Shuit appeared before the Alice Springs Supreme Court on Friday having pleaded guilty earlier this year to three charges relating to the possession and supply of cannabis.
In his evidence he told the court he was born in the Netherlands and left the country for New Zealand when he was six months old.
He then spent some 22 years in New Zealand before moving to Australia, where he has remained for about 40 years as a permanent resident.
But Van Der Shuit is not an Australian citizen, meaning he could now face deportation.
Acting Justice Dean Mildren said the Minister might decide not to deport the accused, or there might be an appeal to a tribunal.
Though he conceded there was still a risk of deportation, he said he would not be taking that into consideration for sentencing.
“So I make whatever sentence I intend to make without taking that possibility into account,” Justice Mildren said.
“Frankly, I don’t consider it to be much of a hardship to you if you were deported to the Netherlands although you can’t speak Dutch, most people speak English.
“Even at your age I suspect you will be able to find work there, [and] although you don’t have relatives there, I don’t think you would have much trouble meeting new people and making friends.
“There will be some separation from your son and daughter living in Alice Springs and your other children, but I see no reason why they couldn’t visit you from time to time.
“I give it some weight, but not much.”
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‘I’m pretty anxious’
Van Der Shuit told the court the prospect of being deported to the Netherlands caused him anxiety.
“I haven’t been there since I was six months old, I can’t speak the language [and] I don’t have any relatives over there,” Van Der Shuit said.
“I’m pretty anxious even pretty depressed ever since I’ve known about this it’s been pretty bad.”
Defence lawyer Noah Redmond confirmed in court the risk of deportation was real, depending on the sentence.
“My reading of the Migration Act is that if a sentence is over 12 months and the defendant spends any time of that sentence in custody, it triggers automatic cancellation of the visa with a discretion to revoke that cancellation,” Mr Redman said.
In his sentencing remarks Justice Mildren said Northern Territory Police searched Mr Van Der Shuit’s home in January, 2019, and found cannabis, cash and equipment used for distribution.
He said the accused supplied 453 grams of cannabis to various people over about seven weeks.
Justice Mildren said the accused had prior convictions for traffic offences and possession and cultivation of cannabis, but had not offended since 2011.
He said Van Der Shuit had used cannabis intermittently throughout his life.
That had increased when his partner died of cancer in 2018.
Van Der Shuit was sentenced to two years and 10 months backdated from the June 13, 2020, suspended after 12 months.