Nine Australians who stripped at the Formula One in Malaysia at the weekend are on their way back home, free to leave the country after apologising.
The men – Thomas Whitworth, 28, Branden Stobbs, 29, Edward Leaney, 25, Nicolas Kelly, 27, Thomas Laslett, 28, James Paver, 27, Adam Pasfield, 25, Timonthy Yates, 29, the son of a senior diplomat, and Jack Walker, 26, a staffer for Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne – were charged with public nuisance.
They pleaded guilty to the charge, which carries a fine but no jail time. No conviction was recorded.
Eight of the men boarded a number of flights from Kuala Lumpur bound for a transit stop in Singapore before the final journey home.
The ninth, Jack Walker, remained in Kuala Lumpur for the evening.
The men had nothing to say when questioned by the media at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
Earlier in court the men read a letter apologising for their actions and expressing regret.
Their defence relied heavily on the cultural differences and the good character of the accused.
Whitworth fainted during the proceeding.
The men were then given water and their handcuffs removed.
‘Budgie smuggling’ case gained international attention
The men stripped down to Malaysian-flag-printed swimwear – or “budgie smugglers” – after Australian Daniel Ricciardo won the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon.
Some of them were also filmed drinking beer from their shoes, an act known as a “shoey”.
The nine spent four nights in two cells at the Sepang police station, near the Formula One race track where they were arrested on Sunday.
The prosecution had considered more serious charges relating to insulting the national emblem, but they were not pursued.
The men were also investigated for intentional insult – a charge that carries a minimum fine and a maximum two years in jail.
Evidence before the court included the nine pairs of swimming trunks bearing the Malaysian flag.
The group arrived at the Sepang court just after 9:00am local time (12:00pm AEDT), and were taken to a court cell amid a large media pack.
John Walker, father of Jack, travelled to Malaysia to support his son and said afterwards that he was relieved at the decision.
It was widely thought the men would be deported rather than jailed, as the Malaysian government, led by Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been criticised for introducing laws thought to be draconian and designed to crack down on free speech.