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Kiwi detention death Serco's fault: mother

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/04/2016

The mother of a New Zealander who died in a Sydney detention centre believes he died in a fight, and blames private prison operator Serco for his death.

Rob Peihopa, 42, died at Villawood in early April, and initial reports suggested he died of a heart attack.

He had served two years in prison for his part in a police chase and was fighting deportation at the end of his sentence, so he could stay close to family in Australia.

His mother, Hera, told TV3's The Nation she was initially told her son collapsed after a visit to the gym, but a coroner had since told her further investigation was needed.

"When I saw his body three days after he died I saw evidence of a fight. He had injuries on his face, bruising and he had injuries behind his head."

She suspected he had been attacked by a group, but had been told by police the detention centre's security camera system did not adequately capture the incident.

"I blame Serco ... they're the security company. They're responsible for our boys."

Serco's long-term contract on Mt Eden prison in Auckland was cut short by Corrections in July last year following weeks of revelations about prison fight clubs, access to contraband and poor inmate behaviour.

Ms Peihopa described her son as a "compassionate person".

Australia has been criticised for tough new immigration laws that allow it to deport any non-citizen who has served a sentence of 12 months or more, or failed a character test.

The rules have caught out many New Zealanders who have lived in Australia for years and no longer have roots in New Zealand.

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