Perth man charged, facing death penalty
A Perth man is facing the death penalty in Malaysia after being formally
charged with drug trafficking.
Dominic Jude Christopher Bird, 32, was refused bail after his appearance in the
Malaysian High Court today, where he was officially charged under section 39B
of the Dangerous Drugs Act - which carries the mandatory death penalty.
Bird’s lawyer, Malaysian-based Australian Tani Scivetti, said she had been
denied access to her client and was only informed of Bird’s High Court
appearance and formal charges late in the afternoon.
Bird was arrested by undercover officers during a police sting at a coffee shop
in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur on March 1, where police alleged he
tried to sell them 225g of methamphetamines.
A search of his nearby apartment uncovered a smaller quantity of drugs and led
to the arrests of 2 local men and a Filipino woman, who are also in custody.
Under Malaysian law, a person convicted of possessing more than 50g of
methamphetamines is declared a drug trafficker and faces a mandatory death
Ms Scivetti said she was uncertain what quantity of drugs Bird had been
formally charged with, as she hadn’t seen the charge sheet yet.
But she confirmed he now faced the death penalty.
“Today, without informing us or the (Australian) embassy, Dominic was brought
before a judge and charged with 39B, which carries the death penalty,” Ms
The charges were laid by Malaysia’s Department of Public Prosecutions.
Ms Scivetti speculated prosecutors must already have secured a chemist’s report
of the substances allegedly found in Bird’s possession.
“They would have had to have had the chemist’s report to officially charge
him,” she said.
Ms Scivetti said she had not visited her client since he was formally charged
this morning, but said he was in a “state of shock” yesterday after a
closed-door hearing at the Jin Jang lockup tentatively charged him with drug
trafficking and remanded him in custody.
He has since been moved from his holding cell at the Dang Wang Police Station
to the maximum security Sungai Buloh Remand Prison.
Bird’s next High Court appearance will be on May 25.
Ms Scivetti said she would try to visit her client tomorrow morning, and
expected to file Contempt of Court charges over police handling of the case.
“The magistrate ordered yesterday that remand be extended for 7 days and that
counsel be entitled to visit their client for two hours a day, commencing
yesterday,” she said.
“Yesterday we went to the police and requested to see Dominic and they said
they were reviewing the matter and denied us access.
“They also didn’t inform us of his High Court appearance this morning, or that
they were laying official charges.
“That court order has totally been ignored.”
Ms Scivetti said it had also been reported to the magistrate that Bird had been
assaulted by police in custody on March 5, after he claimed he was blindfolded
and “slapped around”.
“We asked her to note the fact that he was assaulted,” she said.
However, Malaysian Deputy Director of Narcotics Harris Wong denied Bird had
“No, no, no, no - I’m not aware of any assault,” he told AAP.
Relatives confirmed Bird’s Perth-based father, Clayton, had flown to Malaysia
on Friday, but Ms Scivetti said he had not yet visited his son in custody.
She said she was unaware of the status of Bird’s co-accused but that the
arrested Filipino woman was believed to be a 55-year old maid hired to look
after his luxury apartment, just 20m from the coffee shop where he had been
The Australian Government has refused to speculate on Bird’s case, only to
reiterate it opposes the death penalty and would seek a stay of execution if he
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.
(source: The West Australian)