Nikolic’s new look after Fiji prison release
YVETTE Nikolic is settling back into life on Australian soil - as a brunette.
A day after she arrived back in Melbourne, the formerly blonde wife of accused drug smuggler John Nikolic was seen catching up with family and friends over wine and beer at a Port Melbourne house last night.
It has been more than a year since the mum of two has been in Australia, following a drug bust on her yacht Shenanigans at Denarau Marina in Fiji on June 22 last year.
Looking nothing short of joyous and sporting what looked to be freshly cut and coloured hair, a newly freed Yvette greeted her brother-in-law Danny Nikolic and his partner Tania Hyett with wide smiles and laughter yesterday.
Ms Nikolic had been on "the adventure of a lifetime" for six months before the drug bust, sailing from Florida to Colombia, through Panama and across the Pacific with her former horse trainer husband.
It is understood the couple's two children spent some time on the yacht in Florida before their loved-up parents set sail, leaving them behind.
Customs officers found 13 bars of cocaine, ecstasy tablets, undeclared weapons and ammunition and US$15,000 in $100 bills on Shenanigans when it was raided in Fiji.
Ms Nikolic was found not guilty of drug importation, drug possession and weapons offences by Suva High Court Judge Daniel Goundar on Monday of this week, after languishing in Fiji prisons for eight months.
She flew from Nadi airport to Melbourne within 24 hours of her release, arriving about 8pm on Tuesday night.
John Nikolic remains charged with the above offences and remains in Suva's notorious men's prison.
He has waived his right to a defence and his case has been adjourned until late next week for summation.
If found guilty, Mr Nikolic will then be sentenced.
Sources in the High Court trial said Ms Nikolic sobbed with joy and relief in the dock, as Justice Goundar handed down his decision that she had "no case to answer".
The same sources said one of the Nikolics' lawyers was heard to say "mission accomplished", after Ms Nikolic walked from court.
Addressing the media outside the Suva High Court immediately after the ruling, Ms Nikolic's Fiji lawyer, Ronald Gordon, said it had been "a long eight months" and his client had maintained her innocence from the start.
"We have always maintained she was not guilty of any of the charges and today we heard the judge find in favour of my client and say there was no evidence at all against her in relation to any of the charges, so we are thankful to the Fiji criminal justice system. We've been vindicated," Mr Gordon said.
In his ruling, Justice Goundar said the prosecution case against Ms Nikolic was "entirely based on circumstantial evidence", and there was "no incriminating, direct or circumstantial evidence" against her.
"The application for a no case to answer is allowed and a finding of not guilty is entered on all five charges against the first accused. She may now step down from the dock," Justice Goundar ruled. "The court finds there is some direct and circumstantial evidence on all five charges against the second accused (John Nikolic)."