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Bali Nine drug smuggler arrives in Australia


Bali Nine heroin smuggler Renae Lawrence has landed in her hometown of Newcastle after spending 13 years in jail in Indonesia.

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Lawrence had initially flown with her mother Beverley Waterman and step-brother from Indonesia to Brisbane early this morning after being freed from a Bali jail overnight.

The 41-year-old former panel beater and her family were the last passengers to alight from their connecting flight to Newcastle after it touched down at 11:15am AEDT.

Lawrence walked quickly across the tarmac and was confronted by a scrum of reporters, photographers and camera crews who chased her through the arrivals terminal and out the main exit.

She jumped into a waiting white car and tried to put towels over the rear passenger windows before her mother and stepbrother jumped in alongside her in the back seat.

The car was surrounded by camera crews and photographers, with Lawrence putting one of the towels over her head as she waited to be driven away.

They sped off about five minutes after alighting from the aircraft.

There were no NSW police waiting for Lawrence as she arrived in Newcastle.

Officers remain keen to talk to her about a high-speed car chase that happened not long before she was arrested at Bali airport in 2005, with 2.7kg of heroin strapped to her body.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has indicated a deal with her lawyers was more likely than her being arrested on the tarmac.

Lawrence had earlier faced chaotic scenes when she arrived in Brisbane where she had to dodge a large media pack waiting to ask her questions.

She appeared anxious and teary as she and her family quickly boarded an airport bus and travelled from Brisbane’s international terminal to the domestic terminal to catch their flight to Newcastle.

Her mother described her daughter’s return to a barrage of media and cameras as “overwhelming”.

After arriving at Brisbane’s domestic terminal, Lawrence and her mother sat quietly at the departure gate waiting for their flight.

Lawrence seemed subdued as she chatted quietly, glancing out at the planes on the tarmac and occasionally using a mobile phone.

Asked if she wanted to take a moment to talk about her homecoming Lawrence, looking teary-eyed, declined, and her mother told journalists: “It’s very overwhelming.”

Earlier at the international terminal, Mrs Waterman begged journalists to leave her daughter alone.

“We don’t want to comment. We’ve got nothing to say. Please, just leave us,” she told reporters soon after she and her daughter disembarked and tried to make their way to the customs area.

But later, when Lawrence was again asked if she had anything to say she spoke in Indonesian, which translated as: “Thanks to the government of Indonesia, that’s it.”

Lawrence was released from a Bali prison on Wednesday after serving 13 years for her role in a plot to import more than 8kg of heroin to Australia from Indonesia.

She is the first member of the Bali Nine to taste freedom after serving time in three Indonesian jails.


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