After almost 14 years in prison, Bali Nine member Renae Lawrence will walk free in just a matter of days. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
After almost 14 years in prison, Bali Nine member Renae Lawrence will walk free in just a matter of days. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

Renae Lawrence to face charges back home

Exclusive: When Bali Nine drug mule Renae Lawrence lands in Sydney next week after 14 years behind bars, she will walk into the arms of NSW Police.

The 41-year-old has outstanding warrants over an alleged high-speed police pursuit of a stolen car a month ­before she was arrested in Bali in 2005, News Corp Australia can reveal. Lawrence allegedly stole a Ford Laser from Enfield in Sydney's inner west on March 26, 2005, and drove north with fellow Bali Nine member Matthew Norman in the car.

Police used road spikes to stop the car and arrest the pair on the Central Coast. By the time she was due to face court, Lawrence had been arrested in Bali along with eight other young Australians over the attempted trafficking of 8.2kg of heroin to Australia.

Two warrants for her arrest were issued at Gosford Local Court, meaning Lawrence will still have to face the charges once back in Australia­ after her release from a Bali jail on November 21.

Renae Lawrence will be released on November 21 after serving more than 13 years in jail. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Renae Lawrence will be released on November 21 after serving more than 13 years in jail. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

"A 41-year-old woman has two outstanding warrants for offences including steal motor vehicle, drive unlicensed, speeding and fail to comply with police directions," a police spokesman said.

Norman, 32, is serving a life sentence­ in Bali after he was arrested at the Melasti Hotel in Kuta, where police found 334g of heroin.

Just days before her release from a Bali jail after almost 14 years, Lawrence has told of her apprehension at finally walking free.

Speaking exclusively to News Corporation at Bangli jail in Bali's northeast, Lawrence can barely believe she will soon be flying home to Australia and her hometown of Newcastle.

It will be 13 years and seven months since Lawrence, now 41, last saw her home and since she and eight other young Australians made the fateful decision to traffic 8.2kg of heroin from Bali to Australia.

Sentenced to 20 years in jail for her role in the crime, Lawrence will walk free on November 21.

Lawrence said she has mixed emotions about her impending freedom, but has not ruled out returning to Bali one day. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro
Lawrence said she has mixed emotions about her impending freedom, but has not ruled out returning to Bali one day. Picture: Lukman S. Bintoro

On Wednesday, Immigration Department officials visited Lawrence in Bangli jail to make arrangements for her release and deportation to Australia.

Lawrence's mother Beverley Waterman also yesterday visited her daughter in jail. Mrs Waterman has arrived in Bali to accompany her daughter home to Australia.

Speaking exclusively with News Corporation, Lawrence told of her apprehension at being released.

Her emotions are mixed - she will be freed but the rest of the Bali Nine remain in jail on life sentences and three others have died.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad in 2015 and Tan Duc Thanh Nguyen died earlier this year of cancer.

Lawrence hopes she can find a job in Australia although she knows she will forever carry the stigma of being one of the Bali Nine.

When News Corporation visited Lawrence on the weekend and photographed her with fellow prisoners and the jail governor, she was battling a bout of Bali belly.

She has an easy rapport with the Jail's Governor, Made Suwendra, asking to have her photograph taken with him and her fellow prisoners.

Lawrence has previously spoken of her regret for her role in the Bali Nine heroin smuggling ring, but has been a model prisoner. Picture: Supplied
Lawrence has previously spoken of her regret for her role in the Bali Nine heroin smuggling ring, but has been a model prisoner. Picture: Supplied

Lawrence says she has no idea what she will do back in Australia and does not rule out returning to Bali one day. Asked what she will do and how she feels, she shrugs.

When she is freed on Wednesday next week, Lawrence will be taken into the custody of the Immigration officials who will then officially deport her home. And she will be banned for at least six months from returning to Indonesia.

Renae Lawrence, Matthew Norman  and Si Yi Chen during the court hearing in 2005.
Renae Lawrence, Matthew Norman and Si Yi Chen during the court hearing in 2005.

Bangli jail governor Made Suwendra said Immigration staff had today visited the prison to make arrangements for Lawrence's release and to get her identity documents.

It is understood Lawrence has a brand new Australian passport on which she will fly home next week.

Lawrence is one of just 59 prisoners at the Bangli jail in Bali's northeast, and one of only 11 females there.

Mr Suwendra says Lawrence is a disciplined and well-liked prisoner at the intimate jail complex.

"She is very disciplined, accommodating and friendly," he told News Corporation.

Since her transfer to Bangli jail in 2014 Lawrence has worked hard at turning her life around after a tumultuous period in Kerobokan prison.

During her time jail, Lawrence took up painting and Balinese dancing. Picture: Supplied
During her time jail, Lawrence took up painting and Balinese dancing. Picture: Supplied

 

She is currently working with other female inmates making little Christmas tree decorations which are sold outside the jail and sent to Australia. The group also makes jewellery and brooches and other handicrafts.

Lawrence also took up painting and several of her art works now hang in the jail's administration block and she has learned Balinese dancing. Earlier this year she took part, with other prisoners, in a Balinese dancing display at a nearby jail.

Lawrence is the first member of the Bali Nine to be freed from jail. The rest are all serving life sentences which means there is no prospect of release and they do not qualify for the twice-yearly remissions which help to substantially slash sentence times.

The only hope the rest have is if they can secure a sentence reduction back to 20 years but so far the Indonesian President has refused all their requests.

By the time she is released Lawrence will have served just short of 14 years of her 20-year sentence - her time cut by the remissions she has regularly received. She was actually due for release in May this year but was unable to pay the $100,000 fine levied at the time of her original sentence. She therefore opted to serve an extra six months in jail.

Lawrence was one of four mules, arrested at Bali airport on April 17, 2005, with a total of 8.2kg of heroin strapped to their bodies. Lawrence had almost 2.2kg strapped to her stomach and thighs.

Andrew Chan was also arrested at the airport but with no drugs on him. Another four, including Myuran Sukumaran, were arrested at the same time at a Kuta hotel with the remnants of the heroin and the packaging.

Lawrence received the most lenient sentence of all nine - 20 years - largely in recognition of the assistance she provided police soon after her arrest.