Leeza Ormsby has written the playbook for Antipodeans on how to get off a drug charge lightly in the Balinese court system.
The New Zealand-born Sydneysider will, as a result of her 10-month sentence, be home by the end of the year, avoiding the decades-long nightmares faced by Schapelle Corby and the Bali Nine.
The first thing Ormsby did right when she was arrested on February 12 was shut her mouth. She was caught about to enter a villa containing large portions of MDMA and hashish, bagged up and apparently ready to sell, as well as death penalty-worthy drug paraphernalia (digital scales). In her bag was a half-smoked hashish joint which seemed to link her to the drugs.
In her favour, there was no direct link between the two sets of drugs (at least none that the Balinese police investigation uncovered) and Ormsby had not even rented the Askara Villa, though she did have the key in her possession.
Her second wise move was to hire local lawyer Ary Soenardi. He has a good reputation from a drug defendant’s points of view.
Last year he defended British-born Bali resident Julian Ponder over a massive haul of cocaine that was stopped at Bali airport. The courier caught with the drugs co-operated with police in a controlled delivery that led to Ponder’s door, and alleged he was the mastermind.
But Soenardi’s deep knowledge of the arts (some of them presumably dark) of the Indonesian judicial system got Ponder a mere six-year sentence for possession of a different batch of cocaine in his house. The hapless courier – British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford – was sentenced to the firing squad.
For Ormsby, Soenardy was on the scene on the very first night – he’d been contacted by her ex-boyfriend, Sydney DJ Marco ''Marcotix'' Mazzucco. Mazzucco was also questioned about the drugs but walked free that night.
Soenardi’s advice to the petrified 37-year-old Ormsby would have been, once again: ''Shut up.''
No tell-all, Corby-style interviews with Channel Nine, protesting her innocence and questioning the Indonesian justice system, no incidental comments, paid or unpaid, to journalists of any kind.
To police, though, he would have told her to repeat one mantra: the joint in her bag was hers, the other drugs were not. Be polite and co-operative.
By the time it reached court, Ormsby’s case was that she had been given the joint by a man she did not remember on the beach the day before, and she profoundly regretted smoking half of it with him. She knew nothing whatsoever about the other drugs and could not help police with that part of their investigation. She had learned a ''valuable life lesson''.
In the Indonesian system, being a drug addict is a mitigating factor. Ormsby outlined her drug history and pleaded addiction.
Being polite and apologetic is also often cited by judges as they hand out light sentences. She was polite and apologetic.
Her plea (and conviction) on the lighter charge, the sentence demand by prosecutors of just one year and three months’ jail – and the ultimate sentence of just 10 months – is testament to the success of her approach.
Any Aussie or New Zealander stupid enough to be caught trafficking, consuming or distributing drugs in Bali in future would be well advised to study it.
- Sydney Morning Herald