Naked backpacker happy at UK return

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Published: Saturday 13th June 2015 by The News Editor

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A British woman convicted for stripping on a sacred Malaysian mountain is “pleased and happy” to be returning home to the UK, her lawyer said.

Backpacker Eleanor Hawkins, who pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence, is due to be deported from Malaysia today.

At a court hearing in Kota Kinabalu she was fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£859) and sentenced to three days in jail, which she has already served.

The 23-year-old’s jail sentence officially ended at midnight, her lawyer said, and she was handed to immigration officers to arrange for her flight home via Kuala Lumpur.

Ronny Cham, who represented Miss Hawkins in court yesterday, said she was relieved to be returning home.

He told the Press Association: “She is pleased and happy.”

Miss Hawkins was arrested with three o ther backpackers earlier this week for posing naked on the mountainside after being blamed by locals for causing an earthquake which killed 18 people.

Mr Cham said reports that the backpackers were forced to spend an extra night in prison because their release documentation had not been signed were incorrect.

He said: “Because the sentence included deportation, she finished her jail sentence at midnight and was transferred to the immigration office, so she did not spend any extra time in prison.”

After her conviction Miss Hawkins’s father Timothy said the sentence his daughter received was “appropriate” and “fair”.

“I’m grateful that the Malaysian authorities reached this decision,” he said.

“Eleanor knows what she did was wrong and disrespectful and she is deeply sorry for any offence she’s caused to the Malaysian people.

“We now look forward to having her back home but we don’t know when this will be as we’ve no contact with the consulate in Kuala Lumpur and have not spoken to Ellie.”

Several other backpackers who appeared in the photos remain wanted by police, according to reports.

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck 13,400ft Mount Kinabalu on June 5, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds more stranded.

Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan later blamed the quake on the travellers showing “disrespect to the sacred mountain”.

A recent graduate with a masters degree from Southampton University, Miss Hawkins was in the middle of a gap year travelling around south-east Asia, which began in January.

She went to Malaysia at the start of May and later that month travelled to Borneo.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We remain in contact with Ms Hawkins and her family, and will continue to provide consular assistance.”

Published: Saturday 13th June 2015 by The News Editor

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