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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 June 2006, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
Deportee threat man says thanks
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao said he was relieved and grateful
A Thai man facing deportation from Shetland has spoken of his gratitude to islanders for their support.

Sakchai Makao, 23, has returned home to Lerwick after being released from jail on bail pending his appeal.

He has lived there since he was 10 but was taken away two weeks ago facing deportation as a foreign national with a criminal record.

Makao, convicted of fire-raising in 2004, told the BBC Scotland news website: "I am really overwhelmed."

Thousands of people, more than a third of the population of Shetland, signed a petition calling for his release, and about 800 people turned up to a demonstration in Lerwick in his support.

I was surprised how many signed the petitions
Sakchai Makao

A judge decided Makao could return to Lerwick pending his appeal on 7 July against Home Office plans to deport him.

Makao said: "It was amazing when I stepped off the plane, it's a big weight off my shoulders. I broke down in tears.

"It was hard, prison was scary, I hope it's behind me and I am trying to get on with life.

"We are just taking it step by step for the next two weeks.

"I wasn't surprised that the community was trying to help me as I am part of the community but I was surprised how many signed the petitions.

Picture from Craig G Chapman Photography
About 800 people packed into a leisure centre in Lerwick

"It was great to hear and it's a big 'thank you' to everyone, it has given me a large boost."

He spent eight months in jail for fire-raising two years ago.

Lerwick Sheriff Court heard a mobile building and car were destroyed by fire when he was drunk in "two moments of madness" in 2002.

Makao said: "It was a one-off thing I did years ago. It won't happen again I can assure you of that.

"I have got back to where I was, back to normal."

The Home Office has said it cannot comment on individual cases.

Watch Sakchai's reaction as he returns home

Deportation threat man back home
21 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Thai man bailed ahead of appeal
20 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Sakchai campaign for Tony Blair
14 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
MSP appeals for Sakchai release
13 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportee freedom call escalates
12 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles

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