MELBOURNE: A pregnant Malaysian woman who swallowed 34 pellets of heroin in Kuala Lumpur before her arrest at a Melbourne airport, was jailed a minimum 14 months yesterday, when she pleaded guilty to smuggling heroin.
County Court judge Gabriele Cannon criticised Norazlinda Ramli, 35, for putting her unborn baby’s life at risk, saying her decision to act as a drug courier “does you no credit”, The Age newspaper reported.
The judge said Norazlinda, of Puchong, was desperate for money for her destitute family but she had shown no concern for other people’s children who would be using the heroin.
Cannon said Norazlinda was due to give birth to a daughter she had already named Grace on July 15, and was anxious to keep her with her in jail but it would be up to the authorities to decide what was in the child’s best interest.
Norazlinda was 12 weeks’ pregnant when she swallowed the pellets of heroin and boarded a Malaysian Airlines flight from Kuala Lumpur to Melbourne on Feb 12.
She was stopped by Customs officers and later excreted the pellets which contained a total of 83.1 grams of pure heroin with an estimated street-level value of A$92,200.
Cannon said Norazlinda claimed she did not know the pellets contained heroin.
Norazlinda told police she had been approached by a man at a shopping centre in Subang Jaya, Selangor two weeks before the flight and told she would be paid RM9,000 if she swallowed 80 pellets and travelled to Australia. She could only manage 34 pellets.
She was taken on two trial runs to Sydney before being given the drug for the flight to Melbourne.
Cannon said Norazlinda’s motivation had been to try to provide a better life for her family.
Norazlinda had entered into an arranged marriage at the age of 16 and bore five children.
Her three-year-old son died of a lung condition, three years ago, and her mother died of cancer in 2009.
Her marriage had broken down in 2010 after her husband suffered mental health problems and moved back to his family’s village.
Norazlinda and her children, aged eight, 11, 16 and 19, were forced to live with her stepfather in a three-bedroom apartment.
She was working in a clothing store when she met Abdul Ramen who ran the grocery store next door.
Norazlinda fell pregnant to Abdul and was desperate for money to help support her family when she agreed to swallow the pellets and travel to Australia.
Cannon said she had decided to reduce Norazlinda’s jail term because of her “exceptional family hardship”. — Bernama