A good Samaritan from Northern Ireland who sustained a broken cheekbone and fractured eye socket when he intervened to help a woman being attacked faces deportation from Australia as a result.
Brian O’Boyle — who emigrated to Australia in 2006 — stepped in to aid the victim and was seriously assaulted in the process.
When he reported the attack to police they carried out a background check on him and discovered he had been living in the country illegally since 2008.
Mr O’Boyle (35) said he had no idea a visa he paid for was fake.
He applied for a bridging visa just before Christmas in an effort to remain in the country but it was rejected by the Australian authorities.
Mr O’Boyle, from Carnmoney, was subsequently detained in custody over the Christmas period.
He likened Villawood Detention Centre, where he is being held, to the United States’ infamous prison for terror suspects, Guantanamo Bay.
His appeal against the decision to refuse him a visa is being considered this week, with Mr O’Boyle facing the possibility of having to return to Northern Ireland.
Mr O’Boyle is engaged to an Australian woman and lives in Albury, a small town 200 miles north-east of Melbourne.
He said his fiancee found him lying in the street following the attack.
His brother Martin said Mr O’Boyle is desperate to be allowed to remain in Australia.
He said the detention centre is based more than a nine-hour drive from his brother’s home, meaning his partner visits rarely.
“He came across a woman being beaten up in the street and he intervened,” Martin O’Boyle said. “That’s the sort of person my brother is — he’d try to help anyone.
“He’s also been told he can’t press charges against the guy who assaulted him as he’s technically an illegal immigrant.”
Friends of Mr O’Boyle have started a petition in Australia for him to be allowed to remain in the country.
Alliance Party leader David Ford, who is also MLA for South Antrim, said he has been following the case and has contacted Australian authorities regarding Mr O’Boyle. Martin O’Boyle added: “He’s lived there for six years, he’s engaged and he’s bought a house there so hopefully that’ll grant the visa application and he can stay.”
Just after his arrest at the beginning of last month, Brian O’Boyle spoke of his shock.
“I had just given them the statement and another cop came in,” he said. “He handed the cop a letter and he turned around and said ‘I’m sorry, I’m going to have to arrest you’. I couldn’t believe it.”
He said he spent several hundred dollars on what he believed was a residency permit in 2008 after his tourist visa ran out.
“I was staying at a hostel and there was a man there who looked after visas for people,” he said.
“I gave him AU$600 (£384) and he said that if I didn’t hear from him, it was all sorted. I got a few text messages off him, but I lost that phone in 2010, so I can’t even show the police them.
“I realise now that I was scammed. I really like it here and want to stay here.”
Brian O’Boyle emigrated to Australia in 2006. He was the victim of an assault last month when he intervened to help a woman who was being attacked in the street. When he reported the incident to police they discovered he was in the country illegally. He was subsequently placed in a detention centre while he battles to remain in Australia.