Aussie model in Bali drug bust
By Edith Bevin and Cindy Wockner in Bali - August 22, 2005

A TOP Sydney model arrested in Bali on drugs charges is nervously awaiting test results to confirm whether pills allegedly found in her bag are ecstasy.

Michelle Leslie, 24, who has worked for Myer and was the face of Antz Pantz, could face up to 10 years in prison after one or two pills were allegedly found in her purse in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Leslie, who is based in Sydney but has family in Adelaide, was arrested with four other people when police raided a party at the GWK Cultural Park, a large public auditorium on the cliffs near Kuta.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Tests on the drugs were being conducted today.

If the matter does reach court, Ms Leslie, who was on holiday in Bali with friends after working in Singapore, is likely to face charges of drug possession that carry a maximum jail term of 10 years under tough Indonesian anti-narcotics laws.

But a Bali police source said she would more likely face a punishment similar to that given to Adelaide man John Julian Pyle, who earlier this month escaped with a relatively light five-month jail term for using hashish.

Pyle, 42, was arrested in May and charged with possessing 1.8g of cannabis resin allegedly bought off the street in Kuta for 200,000 rupiah ($27) per gram.

Ms Leslie is the latest Australian caught up in a police crackdown on drug use in Indonesia ordered by the new national police chief, General Sutanto, a former head of the country's anti-narcotics board.

Ms Leslie is being held in dingy cells at Bali police headquarters, where alleged heroin smugglers the Bali nine were held until recently, and, before them, Schapelle Corby.

Justice Minister Chris Ellison said the case was yet another reminder that Indonesia and other countries in South-East Asia took the issue of illicit drugs very seriously.

"Australians, particularly young Australians, need to remember that when they are travelling overseas," Senator Ellison said on Southern Cross radio.

There would "easily" be 40 to 50 Australians in custody in South-East Asia on drug matters, Senator Ellison said.

Schapelle's plight

News of the new arrest came as the Federal Government said it was trying to contact Corby's Indonesian lawyer to confirm or deny talk that her jail term for drug smuggling would be cut in half.

"Certainly we've had no advice from Hotman Paris Hutapea," Senator Ellison said on ABC radio.

"We've been in contact with his office, they've yet to reply.

"I can say nothing more than I think it's just a rumour."

The rumour emerged on Friday, with Mr Downer saying Australian officials were working to verify the claim.

Senator Ellison said another of Corby's lawyers, Erwin Siregar, had denied the rumour.

"He was not aware of it, he thought it was a rumour," he said.

The three High Court judges considering Corby's appeal have until August 28 to either issue their decision or extend the deadline for another 30 days.

More arrests

Ms Leslie was one of five people arrested in Saturday's raids, with four Indonesians aged between 26 and 35 years also taken into custody.

"According to the information our consul-general has, there were five of them who were picked up at the party on the allegation of possessing drugs," Mr Downer said on ABC radio.

"They have been taken into detention. The consul-general saw her last night to check on her welfare.

"The two alleged amphetamine tablets that she was detained with are being tested now to see whether that is what they really are, or whether they are something else.

"We will have to wait and see what the police subsequently do."

Ms Leslie, who models under the name Michelle Lee, lives with boyfriend Scott Sutton in Sylvania, southern Sydney.

Parents' warning

Ms Leslie's parents, Albert and Violet Leslie, of Glenelg North, Adelaide, were told about their daughter's plight last night by Michelle's friends.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade had not contacted the family.

Mr Leslie said that his daughter was extremely health conscious.

"She doesn't take drugs, she doesn't take cold tablets or Panadol. She won't even take anything when she's sick," he said.

Mr and Mrs Leslie have spoken to her boyfriend.

Ms Leslie had gone to a party with friends. Because she had a large handbag, other people stored their bags in hers, according to reports.

The drugs were found in a make-up bag, friends told The Daily Telegraph.

Mrs Leslie said she had warned her daughter against travelling to Bali.

"I've been telling her 'don't go to Bali'. I was scared. Not that she was going to do anything stupid but she's a young attractive girl and you don't know what people around her may do," Mrs Leslie said.

Ms Leslie text messaged her mother saying "Don't stress" about Bali. She assured her mother she was always "very careful".

The arrests were made at a party, called Vertigo Goes to Bali at the lotus pond area of the GWK park, better known as the location for the first anniversary commemoration of the Bali bombing. - With AAP

Australian model arrested for drugs on Bali
22 August 2005

BALI, Indonesia - Bali police have arrested an Australian model after she was allegedly found possessing two ecstasy pills during an anti-drug raid over the weekend, authorities said on Monday.

If found guilty and convicted, the Australian national, identified as Michelle Leslie, could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail, police said.

Four Indonesians were also taken to Bali police headquarters after the raid, conducted early Saturday at a nightclub in the Garuda Wisnu Kencana area in Baliís Jimbaran tourist area.

Bali police spokesman Senior Commissioner A.S. Reniban said Leslie admitted to buying the two ecstasy tablets for 150,000 rupiah (15 dollars) from a local youth one day before she was apprehended.

Police said the 24-year-old was still being held at Baliís police headquarters for questioning after her arrest at the Vertigo Goes to Bali nightspot.

According to Commissioner Mardias Khusin with Baliís anti-drug section, Leslie could face a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in jail and a 750-million-rupiah fine.

Leslie was the latest Australian national caught with drugs on Bali in recent months.

Nine Australians are awaiting trial on charges of trying to smuggle 8 kilograms of heroin out of Bali. If found guilty and convicted, some could face the death sentence.

Baliís Gianyar district court earlier this month sentenced John Julian Pyle, 43, to a relatively light five-month prison term after he was found guilty of using hashish.

Pyle was arrested in early May and charged with possessing 1.8 grams of cannabis resin allegedly bought on the street in Kuta, Baliís most popular tourist spot.

In the most high-profile drug case involving foreigners, Baliís Denpasar district court in late May sentenced beautician Schapelle Corby, 27, to 20 years in jail after she was found guilty of trying to smuggle 4.1 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in October.

The conviction triggered an emotional outpouring for Corby among Australians and prompted a series of threats against Indonesian diplomatic missions in the country.

Adelaide model in Bali drugs arrest
Australian consular officials have visited leading Adelaide model Michelle Leslie who is facing drug charges in Bali.

Ms Leslie, 24, was arrested at a weekend party on suspicion of possessing drugs.

Foreign Minister Alexander Downer says the tablets allegedly found in Ms Leslie's possession are being tested.

"The consul-general saw her last night to check on her welfare," he said.

"And the two alleged amphetamine tablets that she was detained with are being tested now to see whether that's what they really are or whether they're something else.

"Of course we'll have to wait and see what the police subsequently do."

Mr Downer says while nothing is yet proven, this case should still send a strong warning to all Australians.

"People should understand that if you're going anywhere in Asia you should never have drugs with you - the consequences can be quite dire," he said.

"In this particular case, in Michelle Leslie's case, if she were convicted she could serve up to 10 years' maximum in jail."

Justice Minister Chris Ellison details of the arrest are still sketchy and he is waiting for a full briefing.

"It does reinforce the situation in Indonesia and indeed in a lot of other countries in our region, that drugs are regarded very seriously," he said.

"And without pre-empting the case in this instance, it does reinforce the warning that people who travel overseas and have anything to do with drugs face serious consequences."

Ms Leslie's parents are not commenting on their daughter's situation.

A friend says Ms Leslie's parents, Albert and Violeta, are still waiting for an update from consular officials.

The friend, who declined to be named, says she is surprised by the allegations.

"I'm a family friend and I have seen Michelle grow up and everything like that," she said.

"But it's the last person I would think to be involved in things like this, because she's so careful with all her profession and a very responsible, mature girl."

Meanwhile, federal Opposition Leader Kim Beazley says the drug allegation sends a clear message to young people not to get involved in the drugs scene.

Mr Beazley says while the allegations have yet to be proven, young people need to understand the dangers associated with using drugs.

"Just don't wreck your lives with drugs, it's as simple as that," he said.

"Every day you see a story in the paper that makes you want to send that message out again and again."

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