Trip to meet dream woman has landed ‘naive’ New Zealander in a police station cell with 27 others

Locked in a small concrete cell with 27 other men, 24 hours a day, with no direct sunlight, showering with a bucket and relying on the kindness of police for the necessities of life is not how Antony de Malmanche imagined his first trip to Bali.

When the 52-year-old left his Wanganui flat, he was on the trip of a lifetime. Life had been cruel to him over the years, and this was his chance at real happiness. He had met a woman on the internet and thought he had found his soulmate. He never imagined that following his heart would land him in a dingy Indonesian jail accused of trying to smuggle 1.7kg of methamphetamine into the country and facing the death penalty.

De Malmanche has limited access to the phone at the Denpasar police station, so his lawyer, Craig Tuck, agreed to act as an intermediary and share details of his client's daily life.

"Tony has given me permission to share some personal circumstances as they are important to the context of the defence and how we position various matters before trial," Mr Tuck said.

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"Tony was one of the children of Lake Alice [Hospital, near Bulls, and spent] three and a half years in a psychiatric institution as a child and young person. He suffers from long-term depression and has had a head injury which makes him slow to process information."

The head injury - along with back and neck injuries - came when de Malmanche was struck by a falling branch while working as a tree feller in 2002. Two years later, his 7-year-old son, Andre, drowned.

"He is still in shock of the loss of his son," Mr Tuck said.

"By his own admission he is simple and naive. He had never travelled overseas before, he was overwhelmed and out of his depth and hoping to meet the dream woman.

"Tony is a vulnerable person, probably an ideal target - middle-aged and white with a New Zealand passport."


De Malmanche's family have raised more than $10,000 to support him in prison and to pay for his defence. Photo / Greg Bowker

Since his arrest, de Malmanche's only respite from his cell has been trips to the local hospital for help with his pain management. He is on medication for ongoing back and neck pain and without it he is suffering.

Mr Tuck said arrangements had been made to get his prescription medication couriered to Bali from New Zealand, which would make de Malmanche more comfortable.

But even if he is pain free, things will still be grim. "He is in a cell with 27 others with a fan and hole in the roof," Mr Tuck said. "Some other prisoners have no light and no windows. The women's cell is connected to the men's cell so they can talk and play cards but it is closed at night.

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"No one is allowed anything they might kill themselves or others with - no mattress or pillow, and they are only allowed half a towel. They can boil water and have drinking water in a big container. No toilet paper."

Food is given to inmates twice a day - but it is sparse.

"Rice, a small portion of what looks like anchovies and one section of carrot - that is one slice. The police have been giving Tony some of their lunch. They like him and, like so many others in custody, are kind and supportive. There is a real sense of humanity [but] it is grim."

De Malmanche's family have raised more than $10,000 to support him in prison and to pay for his defence. Mr Tuck said that had enabled him to take his client some food and other supplies - much more than some of the others in his cell get.

The 24/7 lockdown means there is little sunlight and no room for de Malmanche to exercise.

"He is able to shower - with a bucket - and has toothbrush and toothpaste, clothes and the fancy orange [prison-issue] suit when they move him," Mr Tuck said.

"I joked with him that it is a hell of a place for a holiday in Bali.

"We can still joke about things, sort of a gallows humour, I guess. He is a great guy, a typical Kiwi battler. He has been through the ringer."

Some of de Malmanche's family will visit him next month - possibly at Kerobokan Prison, to where he will soon be moved.

"Tony is overwhelmed by the support and love shown," Mr Tuck said.

"He is confused and scared but knows that some of New Zealand is with him."

Hard line on drugs

Under Indonesian law the country's controlled-substances list is divided into three different groups, each with different penalties.

• Group 1: Heroin, cocaine, marijuana, MDMA, Ecstasy, LSD, amphetamine, methamphetamine, opium - viewed by the Indonesian Government as having high potential for causing addiction. Offences for these drugs carry the heaviest sentences - life imprisonment for possession, and the death penalty for convicted drug traffickers.

Group 2: Morphine, methadone, oxycodone, pethidine and hydromorphone. Seen as useful for "therapeutic purposes" but dangerous due to their high addictive potential, possession and trafficking in these substances is punishable by three to 12 years' imprisonment. If the amount of drugs exceeds 5g, the death penalty might be imposed.

Group 3: Codeine, dihydrocodeine and buprenorphine. Considered therapeutically useful and moderately addictive, offences attract terms of two to 10 years. Judges may take mitigating circumstances into account and impose lighter sentences. Drug users can be sentenced to rehabilitation instead of prison. Prisoners can appeal the death penalty as far as the Supreme Court. The last resort is an appeal to the President of Indonesia for clemency. Appeals often result in higher courts increasing or upgrading sentences.