Man's conviction for slapping wife overturned

An Indian national who was about to be deported for slapping his wife has had his criminal conviction overturned.

In a judgement handed down this week, the High Court at Invercargill accepted Manoj Vohra's appeal that the district court had erred when it failed in April 2016 to consider if he could be discharged without conviction.

Vohra had pleaded guilty to one charge of assaulting a female.

His lawyer said Vohra was in a situation of heightened emotional distress during the argument in which he slapped his wife on the face, and requested that his client be convicted and discharged.

Judge Mark Callaghan denied the request and instead sentenced him to a supervision period of nine months. He was also required to attend a Stopping Violence programme and had to comply with a restriction order in favour of the victim.

In mid-2016, Vohra tried to renew his visa, but his application was turned down because he did not meet Immigration New Zealand's "good character" requirements due to his conviction.

He submitted a request to the immigration authorities to reconsider their decision, but he was served with a deportation order in October 2016.

Since being denied a visa, Vohra had lived in shared accommodation with friends in Christchurch and was unable to work. He was also in a new relationship and, according to his lawyer, was participating in church and community service activities.

The High Court considered that the "consequences of a conviction in this particular case are out of all proportion to the gravity of the offence committed" and guaranteed him a "rare" decision of having his conviction overturned.

The decision does not mean that Vohra will not be deported but, according to his lawyer's submission to the High Court, the conviction was "the only character issue that the appellant has which affects his immigration status" and rendered him ineligible for a temporary visa renewal.