Australian Brendon Johnsson has been sentenced to five years in prison. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Australian Brendon Johnsson has been sentenced to five years in prison. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

'Remorseful' Coast man sentenced over Bali cocaine

SUNSHINE  Coast man Brendon Johnsson has been sentenced to five years and four months behind bars in Bali for possession of cocaine.

The sentence was less than the eight years demanded by prosecutors but just over the mandatory five years for possession of more than five grams of a class one narcotic. Johnsson was convicted of possessing 11.6 grams of the drug.

And it is well short of the death sentence originally on the table when Johnsson was first arrested and police sought to have him charged with drug dealing, which carries execution as its maximum.

Johnsson was supported at court by his stepfather Ashley Robinson and by John McLeod of Tora Solutions. McLeod, best known for his role in assisting Schapelle Corby's release from jail and later her deportation from Bali, has been helping Johnsson and his family since his arrest liaising with the lawyers.

Under McLeod's wing, Johnsson has freed himself from drug addiction and is now looking to run a concrete rendering course in Kerobokan prison to teach local prisoners the skill.

Australian Brendon Johnsson with John McCloud. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Australian Brendon Johnsson with John McCloud. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

As he walked from court last night, Johnsson thanked the team. "First of all, I would like to thank my family, John McLeod and my lawyers for everything."

Mr Robinson, who has supported his stepson since his arrest and was in court to hear the sentence, urged others in Australia to take note of the consequences of what Johnsson had done and for which he would now serve jail time.

"I would not like to see another family put through what we have been put through," Mr Robinson said.

"I hope it is a lesson to other people … I hope people have a long hard look at what has happened to Brendon."

 

Brendon Johnsson described himself as a “broken, regretful man”. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Brendon Johnsson described himself as a “broken, regretful man”. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

He said it was heartbreaking, at the jail, to see parents, children and spouses visiting their loved ones locked up on drugs charges.

But Mr Robinson said in Johnsson's case his arrest and jailing was a "silver lining" because now, for the first time since he was 16, he is drug free.

"He is a different person. He is in prison but he is a different person. He is thinking clearly," Mr Robinson said, thanking the Indonesian Government and prisons for giving him a second chance to get on with his life and come out the other end a changed man.

Johnsson, who was living in Bali at the time, was arrested on August 4 last year, along with his Indonesian girlfriend Remi Purwanti who last night received the same sentence.

A police search of their Kuta home uncovered 13 plastic packets of cocaine, weighing 11.6 grams. Johnsson had bought the drugs for about RP 40 million or about $A3700 at the time.

Brendon Johnsson in court. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Brendon Johnsson in court. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

In handing down the court's verdict, presiding Judge I Ketut Kimiarsa said: "The defendants Remi Purwanti and Brendon Luke Johnsson have been proven guilty of possessing drugs. Sentence the defendants to five years and four months imprisonment, and RP 800 million fine or an additional two months imprisonment if they fail to pay it."

Johnsson's lawyer Edward Pangkahila told the court his clients accepted the sentence and would not appeal.

"We think this is already the best sentence that Brendon could get," Mr Pangkahila told waiting media. "Appealing the sentence is too risky as the sentence could be more heavy."

A prosecution appeal also seems unlikely although the prosecution is yet to announce its intentions.

Brendon Johnsson after his verdict. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Brendon Johnsson after his verdict. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

Johnsson and Purwanti had both faced charges of drug dealing, which carries the death penalty as its maximum sentence and an alternative charge of drug possession, carrying five to 20 years jail.

At the conclusion of the evidence prosecutors submitted that both Johnsson and Purwanti were guilty of the lesser charge and should be sentenced to eight years behind bars.

During the trial, his lawyers focused on proving that Johnsson was a long-time drug user in a bid to have him treated more leniently.

Johnsson, in a written statement provided to judges, took full responsibility for his actions, saying he was remorseful, embarrassed and ashamed of what he had done.

 

Brendon Johnsson, with girlfriend Remi Purwanti, spoke about the “insidious demons of addiction”. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro)
Brendon Johnsson, with girlfriend Remi Purwanti, spoke about the “insidious demons of addiction”. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro)

"I sit here a broken man, a regretful and remorseful man - but also a sober man, a changed man."

Johnsson told of the "insidious demons of addiction" which had haunted him for more than 27 years and of wasting his life.

And he had a warning for other drug users: "May my pain also be a good lesson and a loud and clear warning to others with addictions."



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