High Court quashes deportation order issued to Tunisian father of Irish children

Achouri, who previously had an address at Hollyhill, Cork, received a one-year prison sentence, with a further two years suspended, after he pleaded guilty in July 2017 to two counts of assault, threatening to kill or cause serious harm and burglary committed against a former girlfriend and her male friend
High Court quashes deportation order issued to Tunisian father of Irish children

High court reporters

The High Court has quashed a deportation order issued to a Tunisian father of Irish children who was jailed for assaulting and threatening his former girlfriend.

Ms Justice Niamh Hyland found the Minister for Justice erred in her approach to considering how Medhi Achouri’s deportation would financially affect his two teenage children, who were born in Ireland and are Irish citizens.

The judge said the teenagers will "undoubtedly" be worse off financially if their father can no longer contribute towards their maintenance. The Minister, she said, was obliged to at least reference this impact on their income and balance this against the reason for deporting him.

The outcome of such a balancing exercise is a matter for the Minister, the judge stressed.

Guilty plea

Achouri, who previously had an address at Hollyhill, Cork, received a one-year prison sentence, with a further two years suspended, after he pleaded guilty in July 2017 to two counts of assault, threatening to kill or cause serious harm and burglary committed against a former girlfriend and her male friend on September 24th, 2016.

The judge said he entered the woman’s house, took a knife from the kitchen, threatened the pair and pushed the woman to the ground.

He also has a number of minor road traffic convictions, including two for no insurance in 2012.

In November 2017 the Minister proposed to deport him under section 3 of the 1999 Immigration Act. She issued a deportation order in August 2021, having rejected Achouri’s submissions on the matter.

Achouri and his children appealed this decision in the High Court, claiming the Minister had incorrectly considered his criminal convictions and failed to adequately examine how his deportation would affect his children.

Spousal visa

Achouri submitted he has spent nearly all of his adult life in Ireland, having arrived here lawfully in 2004 on foot of a spousal visa. He married an Irish woman that year and held almost continuous permission to remain here until August 2017. The couple had two children together.

He accepted he was convicted for a "serious incident", but he said he has served his time in custody, shown remorse and not come to adverse garda attention since.

The electrical engineer claimed he had a close relationship with his children prior to his imprisonment and, despite being prevented from seeing them since his conviction, he continuously supported them financially, including during his prison stay.

He submitted that he would not be able to provide financially for his children if he is deported to Tunisia and the children’s mother is in a precarious financial situation as she is caring for a relative.

Countering, the Minister submitted there was nothing irrational, arbitrary or capricious about taking into account criminal offences when considering whether to deport someone.

She contended that there was no discernible disruption to the applicants’ family life given what she claimed was a "complete dearth of any information" about his relationship with his children. She noted her decision explicitly accepts Achouri pays €120 maintenance each week.

Ms Justice Hyland was not satisfied the Minister discharged her duty to consider the financial impact on the children and, for this reason, quashed the deportation decision.

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