A prominent Perth lawyer has argued that a former Success man arrested in
Malaysia over potential drug charges needs Australia's help.
Earlier this week Malaysian police confirmed Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, 32,
had been ''tentatively charged'' with trying to sell 225g of methamphetamine
and could face the death penalty.
Malaysian Police Narcotics Superintendent Nafisah Adam said that the former
Perth man was being held in custody, along with 3 locals.
They were all arrested on Thursday over a string of alleged drug offences.
Supt Nafisah said Mr Bird had been caught with a large quantity of
methamphetamine ''in his hands'' at a coffee shop in the Malaysian capital of
Kuala Lumpur, and that a search of his nearby house had uncovered a ''smaller
volume'' of drugs and led to the arrests of 2 Malay men and a Filipina maid.
Today on Radio 6PR, Tom Percy QC said it was important for Mr Bird to receive
advice from Australian authorities so his human rights were not impacted.
Under Malaysian law, a person convicted of possessing more than 50g of
methamphetamine was declared a drug trafficker and faced a mandatory death
Mr Percy said that despite some Asian countries having the death penalty, this
being the harshest possible penalty, it has not stopped the drug trade because
addiction and money were also powerful motivators.
"Does the death penalty stop anything and the answer is no," he told 6PR.
He said that even WA courts handing down harsher penalties had not stopped drug
use in the state getting "out of control".
He argued that it was more important to get to the heart of drug use because
"dry up demand and supply will dry up itself".
Mr Bird's father, Clayton Bird, reportedly said that he was unaware of his
son's arrest and had not been able to contact him recently.
Mr Bird had lived with his father in the southern Perth suburb of Success until
6 months ago, when he had moved into an apartment in the central suburb of
Malaysian police federal narcotics director Noor Rashid Ibrahim was reported as
saying Mr Bird intended to smuggle drugs back to Australia.
''He is part of a group,'' the newspaper quoted Mr Noor Rashid as saying.
Supt Nafisah said the arrests were part of an ongoing anti-drugs operation, and
that the men had been under surveillance for some time before their arrests.
''It's part of a team of investigation that was carried out,'' she said.
While Mr Bird and the other men had been ''tentatively charged'', official
charges could follow chemical analysis of the seized substances.
''He is being held and tentatively we will charge him, but it depends on the
contents of the substance on him,'' Supt Nafisah said.
''But I can say (if the drugs are confirmed), definitely he will be charged.''
Supt Nafisah said under Malaysian law, the men could be held in custody for up
to 14 days without charge while police continued to investigate them.
They are expected to initially appear in a magistrates court in Kuala Lumpur,
but could be transferred to a higher court if serious charges were laid.
''If it's confirmed drugs, his case will be transferred to a higher court,''
Supt Nafisah said.
''Yes, they could face the death penalty if convicted.''
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed on Monday Bird
was arrested on March 1.
''Malaysian authorities arrested a 32-year-old Australian man from Western
Australia for allegedly selling methamphetamines,'' a DFAT spokesperson said in
''Consular officials in Kuala Lumpur are seeking access in order to offer
consular assistance to the man.
''It is possible that he will be charged with Trafficking in Dangerous Drugs,
Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death
penalty upon conviction.''
Supt Nafisah said she was not aware if Mr Bird's father planned to travel to
Malaysia to see his son.
Malaysia has executed 3 Australians for drug offences.
Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged in July 1986 followed by Michael
McAuliffe in June 1993.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Acting Foreign Minister Craig Emerson have
previously declined to speculate on the fate of Mr Bird.
''We will provide, as we always do, every consular assistance to every
Australian citizen but beyond that, it would be wrong for me to speculate about
the nature and causes of the apprehension of this man,'' Dr Emerson said.
"Let the justice system take its course.''
(source: Sydney Morning Herald)