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Ex-bikie Paul Burgess wins compensation for unlawful immigration detention

By Eugene Boisvert

A judge has found that a former bikie gang member was put in immigration detention unlawfully for almost two years but has only compensated him for 20 minutes of his time in custody.

The judgement in favour of Adelaide man Paul Burgess, 36, was handed down in the Federal Court yesterday.

Mr Burgess came to Australia from the United Kingdom as a two-year-old.

The Federal Government first stripped him of permanent residency and detained him in June 2016, as part of a nationwide push to deport serious criminals who did not hold citizenship.

The revocation was initially based on his two-month membership of the Comancheros Motorcycle Club in 2013.

Mr Burgess was convicted of robbery and common assault in 2003 and was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Justice Anthony Besanko found Mr Burgess deserved to be detained for 615 days in two separate stints between June 2016 and September 2018 but he was put in detention — in Western Australia and Christmas Island — under the wrong section of the Migration Act.

Despite the mistake, Justice Besanko found “he could and would have been detained in any event” under the Federal Government’s policy to deport serious criminals.

He was only awarded $1 compensation for his 615 days in detention but $15,000 for 20 minutes on September 16, 2016, when he was meant to be released on an appeal but never left Perth’s Yongah Hill detention centre.

It only took then-immigration minister Peter Dutton that short time to decide to cancel Mr Burgess’s visa again and put him officially back in detention on grounds including a conviction for driving dangerously.

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