UPDATE: Ahead of Cassie Sainsbury's family's interview scheduled to air this weekend, a preview has been released in which Cassie's fiancé describes how she was "lured" to Colombia by other Australians.
Cassie is currently being held in a Colombian prison following being found with 5.8kg of cocaine in her suitcase, which she says was planted there without her knowledge. Her partner, Scott Broadbridge, is basically contradicting her story of being completely in the dark about the drugs, saying to Channel Seven’s Sunday Night program that he was "surprised" to learn she was flying to Colombia and that he saw mystery "payments" deposited into her account.
"You saw the payments from them?" host Denham Hitchcock asked, to which Scott replied, "Yes."
Cassie will also speak on the show about the moment she was busted in the airport.
ORIGINAL: The mother and sister of accused drug smuggler Cassie Sainsbury are reported to have secured a tell-all TV deal about the South Australian’s arrest and incarceration in Columbia.
If you find yourself feeling a reflexive unease with this scenario, you’re not alone. It raises a number of legal and ethical issues. And then there’s the very real possibility that anything the family says may worsen Cassie’s predicament. It’s against the law in Australia for a criminal to profit from her crimes. Of course, at this time Cassie isn’t a criminal – she’s merely accused – but if she ends up being convicted of trafficking the alleged 5.8kg of cocaine found in her luggage as she attempted to board a flight from Bogota to London, then she will be a criminal. It’s not technically illegal for her family to pocket the cash pre-conviction – but it’s playing pretty fast and loose with the law.
But most of all, there’s simply too much opportunity for this naïve family to make things worse for Cassie. Lisa and Khala Evans, as well as Sainsbury’s fiancé, Scott Broadbridge, have already raised questions about case by giving conflicting accounts of the reason the Adelaide woman was in Colombia at all – Lisa claimed she was on a work trip with her personal training business, before Scott bungled that alibi by claiming she hadn’t worked for the business for some time. Do they really think opening their mouths again is going to help?
Columbian lawmakers may also see the media interest in the case as an opportunity to make an example of the young South Australian. If the world is watching – specifically via their TV sets on a Sunday night – the Colombian courts are unlikely to be interested in applying lenience. Rather, as Indonesian authorities may have done with another Australian drug-accused, Schapelle Corby, they may choose to capitalise on the South Australian’s visibility as a warning to others, and apply the full force of the law. In Cassie’s case, that means up to 15 years jail.
We’ve entered a strange new world where Australians who get in trouble overseas see the media as a significant player in the way their cases proceed. We saw it with Schapelle Corby, with no evidence it assisted her in any way. We saw it again with Sally Faulkner, the Australian mother whose children were kidnapped by their Lebanese father – that case ended catastrophically, with a number of arrests and Sally losing all contact with her kids. It’s easy to see how a smooth-talking TV producer could convince a desperate family that they can step in and present a loved one’s plight in a way that will tug at the heartstrings and help her case. The cash offer must certainly sweeten the deal. But the potential risks are astonishing.
Cassie’s family would do better to stay quiet, work every legal angle they can and pray with everything they’ve got.