A Sri Lankan-born doctor who bludgeoned her husband to death with a mallet after years of abuse is appealing to the Immigration Minister to allow her to stay in Australia after serving her sentence.
- Dr Chamari Liyanage killed her husband in 2014 after suffering years of abuse
- She is currently serving a four-year prison term for manslaughter
- She has appealed to Peter Dutton not to be sent back to Sri Lanka
Dr Chamari Liyanage is serving a four-year prison term in Greenough Regional Prison after being convicted of the manslaughter of fellow doctor Dinendra Athukorala at their home in the West Australian town of Geraldton in June 2014.
She was acquitted of the more serious charge of murder and has been eligible to apply for parole since June.
Her application for parole is due to be heard early next year but if granted, she is likely to be moved into immigration detention and could be deported because her visa was cancelled whilst behind bars.
In an appeal to Peter Dutton obtained by 7.30, Liyanage said she took full responsibility for what had happened and there was little to no chance of her reoffending.
“I would also like you to consider my personal circumstances leading to the offence,” she wrote.
“I was a victim of long term abusive and violent relationship and I believe that my judgement had been affected and considerably impaired at the time.”
Liyanage said she feared for her safety if deported to Sri Lanka.
“I am afraid and concern (sic) about safety of my family in Sri Lanka if I have to return home,” she wrote.
“My presence, media publicity and stigma associated with this case will bring hostilities towards my family … I am worried that will jeopardise the lives of my family.”
Liyanage lived ‘double life’
During her trial, the court heard the couple’s five-year marriage was defined by the “worst kind” of escalating sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
Liyanage’s immigration lawyer, Alisdair Putt, said her client was living a “double life”.
“On the one hand, she was a very well-respected and intelligent medical practitioner who worked extremely hard on behalf of patients often in a life-saving role,” he said.
“But on the other hand, she was part of a very violent and abusive manipulative relationship with her former partner that did cause considerable stress.”
Even her closest friends had little clue about what was going on behind the closed doors of her Geraldton home.
Di Budge said she was shocked when she learned the details of her friend’s marriage.
“The thing that caused the biggest shame — he used to wake her in the early hours for his Skype sessions, these websites where they exchange videos, porn videos,” she said.
“And he used to trade videos of her with whatever he was looking at. He was into kiddy porn, doggy porn.”
The court heard Athukorala kept 13 terabytes of encrypted child exploitation and bestiality images.
Fears over possible deportation
Ms Budge said she would be concerned for her friend’s safety if she was forced to return to Sri Lanka.
“We really are terrified of that possibility because it would be to a very uncertain future if she went back there,” she said.
“And not only just for her, I think she’s more worried for her own family.”
She said she hoped Mr Dutton would consider her Liyanage’s appeal.
“She wasn’t an illegal immigrant in the first place, she was welcomed to Australia as a qualified professional and the events as they unfolded since her arrival have been outside of her control,” she said.
“She’s already suffered enough and she’s already paid the penalty.
“Why would they even consider sending her back to Sri Lanka where it could start all over again?”
Mr Putt said his client was at no risk to the country and should be allowed to stay.
“I mean we can understand that the Australian community does need to be protected from violent offenders but I think that’s very different from a case where a woman who’s been in an enormously violent and abusive relationship finally snaps,” he said.
“I think that’s a different situation and I think that’s what she’s saying to the Minister.”
Mr Dutton said he was unable to comment as Liyanage’s request to reverse her visa cancellation was under review.