Fugitive grandfather out of the frying pan, into the fire in US

STILL STUCK: Maya Eidson, owner of Maria's Donkey has lost her citizenship appeal.
STILL STUCK: Maya Eidson, owner of Maria's Donkey has lost her citizenship appeal. Jonathan Reichard

A WELL-known Mackay restaurateur faces an agonising wait to find out what has happened to her elderly father after he was forced to return to the United States after nearly 30 years on the run.

Maya Eidson, who runs Maria's Donkey on River St, also doesn't know if she will be able to see her father, Patton Eidson, again without giving up her life in Australia, after her citizenship appeal was turned down.

A court decision last week means she must remain in Australia or risk not being allowed to return if she goes.

Maya said her father made the choice to return to the United States last week because his health was suffering while he was being held in a Brisbane immigrant detention centre.

She still hasn't heard from him since he left.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Sunday that Patton had appeared in a San Francisco court. They said Mr Eidson entered not guilty pleas on Friday to drug importation and false passport charges.

The Eidsons came to Australia in 1985 when Patton was caught up in a drug dealing investigation.

They assumed identities, gained false passports, and moved to the far north Queensland town of Julatten where they ran a health retreat for 15 years.

Years after moving, Maya had to fill out some forms for visas, Australian citizenship, and a passport.

She ticked boxes and continued a lie that started 32 years ago. Their downfall came when the people whose identities they had assumed were found to have died when officials checked records.

Patton was sentenced to two years in jail and served six months. That jail term is the reason Australian authorities denied him a visa and took him to the detention centre.

"He went to jail over the passport fraud for six months. When he was released from jail they gave him a bridging visa, they have renewed the bridging visa twice since. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, they decided not to grant him another bridging visa," Maya said.

Maya gained Australian citizenship in 1993, but it was revoked in 2015.

A Department of Immigration and Border Protection spokesperson said: "The Department does not comment on individual cases."

Topics:  court case editors picks general-seniors-news immigration mackay maria's donkey maya eidson patton eidson river st

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