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Australians who were locked up in South East Asia issue a stark warning to Renae Lawrence

Australians who spent years locked up in south-east Asian jails have issued stark warnings to convicted drug mule Renae Lawrence as she attempts to adjust to life outside prison.

Lawrence, 41, spent 13 years behind bars – including spending time at the infamous Kerobokan prison – after acting as a smuggler for the notorious Bali Nine.

She was arrested at the airport after arriving in Bali in April 2005 with 2.7kg of heroin strapped to her body.

Originally sentenced to life in prison, she had her jail term reduced for ‘good behaviour’.

As Lawrence returns from incarceration in Asia to freedom in Australia, those who have experienced the transition first hand have expressed how tough the change can be.

Australians who spent years locked up in south-east Asia have issued stark warnings to convicted drug mule Renae Lawrence as she attempts to adjust to life outside prison

Adrian Simon's (right) father Warren Fellows (left) was arrested along with rugby league star Paul Hayward in Bangkok, Thailand in 1978 after being caught trying to smuggle 8.5kg of heroin into Australia

Adrian Simon’s (right) father Warren Fellows (left) was arrested along with rugby league star Paul Hayward in Bangkok, Thailand in 1978 after being caught trying to smuggle 8.5kg of heroin into Australia

Mr Simon was just two years old at the time, and told Daily Mail Australia his relationship with his father is now non-existent

Mr Simon was just two years old at the time, and told Daily Mail Australia his relationship with his father is now non-existent

Adrian Simon’s father Warren Fellows was arrested along with rugby league star Paul Hayward in Bangkok, Thailand in 1978 after being caught trying to smuggle 8.5kg of heroin into Australia.   

Mr Simon was just two years old at the time, and told Daily Mail Australia his relationship with his father is now non-existent.

‘I put this down, not so much to his having been arrested, but mainly due to the damage done to him in prison, his resulting and subsequent behaviours and mental health,’ Mr Simon said. 

Fellows received a royal pardon from the King of Thailand and was released from Bankwang prison – known for its cruel treatment towards inmates and nicknamed ‘Big Tiger’ because it ‘eats those on the inside’ – in January 1990.

He became addicted to heroin while in prison, and had trouble getting used to technological advancements in the outside world.

‘He was still living in the 70s in what was the 90s,’ Mr Simon said.

Fellows received a royal pardon from the King of Thailand and was released from Bankwang prison (pictured)

Fellows received a royal pardon from the King of Thailand and was released from Bankwang prison (pictured)

Lawrence, 41, spent 13 years behind bars - including spending time at the infamous Kerobokan prison - after acting as a smuggler for the notorious Bali Nine

Lawrence, 41, spent 13 years behind bars – including spending time at the infamous Kerobokan prison – after acting as a smuggler for the notorious Bali Nine

‘I believe my father was unprepared for how the world had moved on, how my mother and myself had been living our lives, and that in many ways, we had moved on as best we could.’  

Mr Simon offered some advice to Lawrence’s friends and family, telling them not to expect her to be the same person as she was before her imprisonment.

‘There is no doubt going to be a huge transition period for her – and with that will come all the connected emotions,’ he said.

‘My advice to friends and family would be to allow her some leeway. She will need some space to heal and time to prove herself, but will need those close to her to be around to support. It’s not a time for judgement – those days are passed.

‘I hope her transition is more successful that my father’s, especially in regards to looking after her health. I’d ask those around her to support her and be empathetic as to what she’s facing right now.

‘I also hope she has deep understanding of the resentments and anger that her loved ones would no doubt feel due to her arrest, and time incarcerated.

Fellows (left, with Mr Simon as a baby) received a royal pardon from the King of Thailand and was released from Bankwang prison in January 1990

Fellows (left, with Mr Simon as a baby) received a royal pardon from the King of Thailand and was released from Bankwang prison in January 1990

Kay Danes and her husband Kerry (couple pictured) were imprisoned in Laos in December 2000

Kay Danes and her husband Kerry (couple pictured) were imprisoned in Laos in December 2000

‘These are really complex emotions all round. I wish her well.’

Mr Simon wrote a book, Milk-Blood, about his experience growing up as the child of a drug trafficker. 

Kay Danes and her husband Kerry were imprisoned in Laos in December 2000.

The couple were convicted of embezzlement, tax evasion and destruction of evidence, sentenced to seven years each in prison and ordered to pay $1.1million in fines and compensation.

They were released from prison almost a year later after the Australian government intervened and the pair were granted a presidential pardon.

Mrs Danes said she saw someone being tortured every day she was in prison, which she described as ‘hell’.

‘Having been subjected to torture and mock executions, and seeing many other prisoners tortured, the hardest thing coming home was coping with a new normality,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.

‘Everything was foreign to me, the language, the sights, the smells, the customs. It was as if I had been transported to an alien world. I didn’t know that 9/11 had happened.

Mrs Danes said she saw someone being tortured every day she was in prison, which she described as 'hell'

Mrs Danes said she saw someone being tortured every day she was in prison, which she described as ‘hell’

‘No-one told us because in my present mental state, I couldn’t handle being exposed to any further trauma. When I heard about what had happened to all those people, I really felt the world had changed even more than what I was experiencing there and then.’ 

During a phone conversation from prison with her mother on Christmas Day, Mrs Danes told her she thought she was going to die.

‘I traded two bottles of Absolut vodka for that phone call to my mum. It seemed important to say what was most on my mind… Happy birthday mum – she was born on Christmas Day – and I think they’re going to kill me.

‘I’m so sorry I said that to my mum because she didn’t see me or hear my voice again for almost a year. That must have been torture for her, always wondering if I was OK. I think we never fully appreciate what our families must endure when we are in such difficulty.’ 

Mrs Danes said she was unprepared for the intense media scrutiny that would meet her once she touched down in Australia

Mrs Danes said she was unprepared for the intense media scrutiny that would meet her once she touched down in Australia

Mrs Danes said she hopes Lawrence (pictured) will 'find her way as she begins another chapter of her life'

Mrs Danes said she hopes Lawrence (pictured) will ‘find her way as she begins another chapter of her life’

Mrs Danes said she was unprepared for the intense media scrutiny that would meet her once she touched down in Australia.

‘We arrived home to a 200-strong media conference in Brisbane. I was shocked because for almost a year, I had no idea what the media had been reporting about us.

‘Not once during our unlawful detainment were we able to speak with any media, to confirm or refute what was being reported. It was incredibly damaging to our reputations.’

Mrs Danes said she hopes Lawrence will ‘find her way as she begins another chapter of her life’.

‘If I could give her advice, I’d say don’t look back. Move forward and make your life count for something amazing,’ Mrs Danes said.

‘It’s hard when people judge you, and they will. But just remember that even in the darkest place, there is always hope. Surround yourself with people who will support you.

‘Remember that it’s up to you what happens next.’ 

Lawrence (centre), 41, spent 13 years behind bars - including at the infamous Kerobokan prison - after acting as a smuggler for the notorious Bali Nine

Lawrence (centre), 41, spent 13 years behind bars – including at the infamous Kerobokan prison – after acting as a smuggler for the notorious Bali Nine

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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