News World Renae Lawrence leaves Bali jail as ‘a free woman’

Renae Lawrence leaves Bali jail as ‘a free woman’

Renae Lawrence (C), was accused of trafficking 11.2 kilograms of heroin from the Indonesian resort island of Bali. Photo: Getty
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Convicted Bali Nine drug smuggler Renae Lawrence is officially “a free woman” having been released from jail in Bali on Thursday night.

The 41-year-old walked out of Bangli prison in Bali’s east just after 8pm AEDT after a justice department official confirmed Lawrence would be immediately transferred to the airport.

She will be held in a detention room at the airport before being deported to Australia once the paperwork has been completed.

The official said Lawrence had undergone a medical check and was given a statement of good health.

It was among several documents produced at the press conference shortly before Lawrence’s release, including a order letter from the immigration department “to leave Indonesian territory immediately”.

Lawrence completed her 13-year jail term at midnight local time (3am AEDT) but Bali’s immigration chief Agato Simamora earlier said she would have to wait to be processed.

“She’s just an ordinary foreign citizen. Why would we bother working at midnight?” he told the ABC.

Lawrence was jailed for trying to smuggle 2.7 kilograms of heroin to Australia from the tourist hotspot in 2005.

She was given a 20-year sentence, but her jail term has been cut short due to good behaviour.

Mr Simamora said once Lawrence leaves the country, she will be banned from ever returning. Her name will remain on a blacklist of foreigners barred from entering the country, he said.

A crowd of Australian media had gathered outside Bangli prison since last week in anticipation of Lawrence’s release.

Her mother Beverley Waterman and stepbrother Allan Waterman have been in Bali for at least a week to visit her regularly in jail and take her home. Neither has spoken to the waiting media.

Renae Lawrence’s mother Beverley Waterman and stepbrother Allan Waterman arrive at Bangli prison. Photo: ABC

Her father Bob Lawrence in Newcastle told the ABC he could not afford to travel to Bali to see her before she flies home.

Immigration authorities have indicated Lawrence will be taken by police escort when she leaves the jail, to prevent any disruption from the media pack.

It is understood Lawrence had a small Hindu ceremony inside the jail earlier this week to help prepare her for her return to Australia, and ensure she has a fresh start.

But Lawrence still faces outstanding charges in Australia relating to the theft of a car in Sydney in 2005, and a high-speed police chase that ensued.

She was charged with vehicle theft, speeding and driving without a licence. But she failed to show up in court in Gosford in the same month she was arrested in Bali with heroin strapped to her body.

Her father has said she is a “nervous wreck” at the prospect of returning home after so many years.

Lawrence is the first and possibly the only member of the Bali Nine to return to Australia.

She was originally sentenced to life in jail, but had her sentence cut to 20 years on appeal.

She has had more than six years shaved off that sentence for good behaviour and on national holidays, where small remissions for prisoners are common.

One of the Bali Nine, Matthew Norman, told reporters yesterday that he still hopes his sentence might be cut, and that he too could be freed.

He is one of five members of the original Bali Nine still serving life sentences in Bali and Java.

Two ringleaders, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were executed in 2015.

Another, Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen, died of stomach cancer in June.

-with ABC