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Leslie could be freed soon after apology
Saturday Nov 12 08:00 AEST

Freedom could be just around the corner for Michelle Leslie after Indonesian prosecutors dropped demands that she face a long prison term.

The surprise turnaround came after Leslie apologised and pleaded for mercy at her Bali drugs trial, which heard that she had admitted occasionally taking ecstasy.

After Leslie's remorseful testimony, state lawyers said they would now only seek a minimum sentence of three months - a period that she has almost served since her arrest outside a Bali dance party on August 20.

Originally they had demanded she be locked up for the maximum term of 15 years for possession of two ecstasy tablets.

The trial resumes at the Denpasar District Court on Tuesday and Leslie could be freed soon after that.

"The ecstasy wasn't consumed," Chief prosecutor Risman Tarihoran said. "She is only a user. She only received the drugs."

Speaking from the witness chair, Leslie said she had not known that the two pills in her handbag on the night of her arrest were ecstasy.

She said the pills had been given to her by a friend named Mia who had told her they were medicine for anxiety attacks.

The 24-year-old said she had been stunned when police opened her Gucci handbag and found that the two pink tablets wrapped in tissue paper were the party drug.

Leslie told the three-judge bench that she "very disappointed" that her friend of two years Mia and several others who had been in her car had not shown up to help defend her.

"I'd like to apologise very much to the people of Indonesia for giving a problem in their country, because that was never my intention," Leslie said.

"I'd like to ask for mercy and justice from the court."

A Bali psychiatrist Dr Denny Thong separately told the court that Leslie had turned to ecstasy to ease anxiety and stress.

These had started after a fallout with her parents, particularly her Filipino mother.

"Michelle and her mother have different cultural backgrounds. She and her mother were always clashing over how she should behave," Thong said.

"The peak was when she was 15. They had a big fight. Her mother ordered her from the house, she left and never came back.

"After that Michelle was very often attacked by overwhelming anxiety.

"Finally she tried to find her way out herself and six years ago became an occasional ecstasy user."

But Thong said the drug had been only a temporary relief.

"If she is sent to prison her path could get worse," he warned.

Leslie said she sought help 18 months ago from Victorian doctor Peter Lewis, who prescribed an amphetamine-based pill name Ritalin, used sometimes to treat hyperactivity and anxiety.

The model said she had arrived in Bali with her supply of medicine running low and without a prescription from her Australian doctor.

Mia, who has since disappeared, promised to find her a similar medicine and passed her ecstasy on the way to the rave party.

"I needed a substitute, something similar to my medicine," Leslie said.

"Mia passed me the tissue because she told me that the contents were a replacement."

Asked if she had checked the contents, the Adelaide-born model said she had not.

Leslie said she had been "shocked and scared" when police confronted her with the drugs.

"Mia came over to me and she was nervous. She said `whatever you do don't say anything and whatever happens we'll fix it'," Leslie said.

"I became nervous and scared too. The only word I understood was ecstasy."

Shortly afterwards Mia and the others abandoned Leslie to police and disappeared.

  • Michelle Leslie Case Page

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