Australian acquitted and discharged in drug trafficking case

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The High Court here today acquitted and discharged Australian Dominic Jude Bird after the defence raised a reasonable doubt in the prosecution’s case on a charge of trafficking in 167.8 grammes of methamphetamine, last year.

Justice Kamardin Hashim, in his judgment, said it was not safe to convict the accused after maximum evaluation of the testimonies of eight prosecution and eight defence witnesses.

“At the end of the defence case, the court must be convinced whether the prosecution had established its case beyond reasonable doubt and the benefit of the doubt must be given to the accused.

“After taking (into consideration) all the evidence before this court, I’m satisfied that a reasonable doubt had been established by the defence and I’m discharging you from the charge,” Justice Kamardin ruled.

An elated Bird, 34, from Perth, immediately hugged two Australian embassy staff seated at the public gallery before his legal team, led by Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, joined in.

Bird told reporters later that prior to the judgment, he was restless and constantly looking at the clock, thinking the trial judge might postpone his decision by a week or two.

On how he was treated while under remand for more than a year at the Sungai Buloh prison on the outskirts of the Malaysian capital, he said he was well treated and had not much to complain.

However, Bird had some nerve-wracking moments when he was told that he was likely to stay overnight at the Immigration office pending his visa application, since it had expired while he was under remand.

Bird, who was visibly shaken and confused with the development, was persuaded by Shafee that this was just a formality in ensuring that he had valid travel documents.

Meanwhile, deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib said he would seek further instruction from the Attorney-General’s Office on whether to appeal the acquittal.

On March 25, Bird was ordered to enter his defence for trafficking in 167.8 grammes of methamphetamine at an eatery in Jalan Yap Kwan Seng here at about 7.15 pm on March 1 last year. – BERNAMA