Former NZ Idol winner Matthew Saunoa leaves Southport Magistrates Court after a previous appearance. Picture: Lea Emery
Former NZ Idol winner Matthew Saunoa leaves Southport Magistrates Court after a previous appearance. Picture: Lea Emery

Idol winner says 'life in jail tough-going at the moment'

A FALLEN Idol has found life in a jail cell tough-going with the pop singer apparently having trouble getting legal help and dealing with his grandma having coronavirus, while facing 29 charges.

He is also losing sleep over the fear of being deported to New Zealand.

Matthew John Saunoa, 34, from Surfers Paradise, went before Ipswich Magistrates Court on Monday charged with a bundle of car stealing charges; stealing; breaking into premises; drug offences; and failing to appear at court.

The 2006 New Zealand Idol competition winner was eloquent when speaking from jail via video link to magistrate Donna MacCallum, saying how hard it was to speak to his lawyers or with Legal Aid with his calls going unanswered.

Saunoa faces 29 charges most alleged to have occurred on the Gold Coast including four counts of unlawful use of stolen motor vehicles - at Burleigh Heads on February 22, at Broadbeach on December 7, 2019; at Main Beach on October 3, 2019; and in Parkwood between December 22, 2019 and January 18.

An entering premises with intent charge relates to an alleged incident at Miami between January 15 and January 18.

He is also charged with nine counts of stealing, breach of bail, and possession of dangerous drugs.

"I've learned of the possibility of being deported while in custody," he said.

"It's all that much harder," Saunoa said referring to the health crisis and jail lockdown due to the coronavirus.

"My grandmother has got the virus in New Zealand. I've been incarcerated just over three weeks," he said.

"Since finding out about deportation, I'm struggling to sleep."


New Zealand Idol winner in 2006, Matthew John Saunoa.
New Zealand Idol winner in 2006, Matthew John Saunoa.


When Ms MacCallum queried if there was a deportation order, Saunoa said there had been a story in the Gold Coast Bulletin in which a minister "referred to me being deported".

"And when I was taken into the police watch house cops mentioned an interest," he said.

"I have done a lot of good in the community. The charges are from my struggle from my drug abuse, since (I was) 13.

"I find it very hard to relate to the person on drugs.

"I've been clean in jail.

"My kids are in New Zealand.

"Every time I'm in the paper in the news it is affecting them."

He said the past three weeks had been "a big eye-opener".

"I want the train of destruction to stop," he said.

Saunoa said his communication with Legal Aid had been non-existent and no one picked up the phone.

"It's really desolate in jail at the moment," he said.

Prosecutor Sergeant Brad Dick said bail was opposed with Saunoa subject of 29 charges.

"Australian Border Force has indicated that on finalisation of his criminal matters it will interview him and make a decision on his status in the country," he said.

"It is a bit hard to get out of the country at the moment," noted Ms MacCallum.

Sgt Dick said Saunoa had been held in custody for about 25 days and was deemed by police to be an unacceptable risk of committing more offences.

Saunoa said he'd applied for Legal Aid on the day he'd been taken into custody and was not sure what the situation is -"it is very hard to get a phone number, trying to find a lawyer".

Ms MacCallum adjourned the matters for four weeks with Saunoa to remain in jail.