Sunday, July 3, 2011

⅏Did You Know: Barlow and Chambers Execution



Did You Know...

The Barlow and Chambers execution refers to the hanging on July 7, 1986 in Malaysia of two Australian citizens, Kevin John Barlow and Brian Geoffrey Chambers of Perth, Western Australia, for the drug trafficking of 141.9 g of heroin.

The two men became the first Westerners to be executed under Malaysia's new tougher laws for drug offences that prescribe death for anyone convicted of having over 15 grams of heroin. Barlow was born in the UK in Stoke-on-Trent and held dual British and Australian nationalities. Barlow's family made appeals to UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to make a protest about the impending execution, and an appeal for clemency to the Malaysian government from Australian politician Bill Hayden was made.

The executions caused public outcry and strained political relations between Australia and Malaysia at the time.
Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were arrested in Bayan Lepas airport in Penang on 9 November 1983. What tipped airport security off was the fact that Barlow was reported to have acted extremely nervous. When they eventually opened the maroon suitcase the duo carried, they found 141.9g of heroin.

Abdullah Badawi
Pic by Mr Tan
Death is the right kind of punishment for drug traffickers because of the suffering they cause, Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says.
"We are very hard, very hard on drugs ... (they are) a threat to the wellbeing of our society," the Malaysian prime minister told journalists in Perth.
"You know the kind of suffering they (drugs traffickers) have inflicted upon the people who have to take their product.
"I have seen enough suffering. I have seen enough. I have seen what happens to these people."

Background
Between early 1981 and the end of 1983 Chambers had made at least twelve trips abroad to transport heroin to Australia. In 1980 Chambers and his then-girlfriend imported heroin to Australia using body packing techniques: Chambers placed some in his anus, the girlfriend inserted packets into her anus and vagina. The rest of the load was swallowed. The two were using the same technique in 1981 when, on transit in Singapore, customs officers detected Chambers' two vials of personal-use heroin in his jacket pocket. They were released after bribing officers. Chambers and his then girlfriend, Susan Cheryl Jacobsen, decided to move to Melbourne to escape Perth's organised crime scene. Driving intoxicated near Penong, South Australia, Chambers crashed the vehicle. Chambers was not seriously injured however Jacobsen received severe injuries. Jacobsen spent several days in a coma before dying of her injuries on 20 May 1983.

Planning
The drug run was organised by Perth criminal John Asciak. Chambers was enlisted for the job due to his experience in the task. Asciak spent much time at the residence of his girlfriend Debbie Colyer-Long and got to know her boarder, Kevin Barlow. Asciak soon learned Barlow had little money and few prospects for regular work. At the time Barlow was on compensation after injuring himself at work. He was depressed, consuming a lot of alcohol and marijuana after losing his girlfriend. He had also been threatened with the repossession of his car.
Though Barlow and Chambers later testified they were tourists travelling alone who met by chance in Singapore and then opted to travel together, their meeting in Singapore in October 1983 was planned by Asciak. Chambers had previously had a meeting with Barlow in Perth to approve him for the job. To help conceal their activities, Barlow had flown to Singapore directly from Perth, while Chambers had flown there via Sydney. After the Singapore meeting they disobeyed orders by travelling together and sharing the same hotel rooms; they had been directed to stay apart. 
Barlow was a novice on his first drug run; he was convinced by organisers that as Chambers was an experienced drug courier the plan would proceed smoothly.  Barlow was initially confident the drug run would be successful.
The proposed drug run had been openly discussed by John Asciak and Kevin Barlow in the household of Debbie Colyer-Long prior to the event. Colyer-Long's brother-in-law Trevor Lawson learned of it and had informed the National Crime Authority of the scheme.

Initial plans were that Barlow and Chambers conceal the drugs by inserting packages into their anuses and swallowing the rest. Barlow refused to do either, the former for reasons of distaste, the latter due to health concerns with that method. Chambers relented and placed the several packages of drugs, which were within plastic carry bags and wrapped in newspaper, into a newly purchased maroon suitcase. Barlow had become very nervous after the collection of the drugs

Arrest/Jail
Barlow and Chambers were observed alighting from the same taxi at Bayan Lepas International Airport on 9 November 1983. Barlow carried the maroon suitcase and entered the airport. He bypassed the luggage scanning area and approached the check-in desk. Chambers, carrying Barlow's bags, paid the taxi, entered the airport and passed through the luggage scanning area, and joined Barlow at the check-in desk. They were detained by police and Barlow was seen to be very nervous.
Taken to an interview room they were asked to open the suitcases. Chambers opened the bags he was carrying. Barlow said he was unable to open the case he had carried and that it was Chambers' case. Chambers unlocked the case's combination locks and the drugs were found, however he claimed he had not known the contents of the smaller carry bags the drugs were in.
When police handcuffed them, they were reportedly "shivering terribly".
Chambers was well liked in prison; however Barlow had trouble adjusting, and was described as being a "lunatic" and "cracking up".
Barlow attempted to excuse his actions by claiming that he had been forced to take the trip and his girlfriend threatened if he refused.

Trial/Sentence
Their trial started 17 July 1985 at the High Court of Penang. The trial opened with both men claiming the drugs found in the maroon suitcase belonged to the other.
Chambers remained handcuffed through the trial. Barlow was not cuffed but used crutches due to a groin injury.  The arresting officer testified that he saw Barlow holding the maroon suitcase and shivering while waiting to board the plane. The court heard that Chambers had acknowledged ownership of the suitcase two days after the arrest. Chambers testified in court that he didn't know about the drugs in the case, and that Barlow had also used the case. Chambers also testified that Barlow had attempted to bribe a policeman at the airport when the drugs were discovered.

An overhead view of the
Pudu Prison complex,
as seen from the
 Berjaya Times Square
The trial concluded 24 July and both men were found guilty. The trial judge deferred pronouncing sentence for a week to enable lawyers of the two men to prepare submissions to him which might be used in an appeal to the supreme Court of Malaysia, and to hear submissions on behalf of Barlow that he should be allowed to return to Australia immediately for an operation on his leg.  The prosecutors surmised that as they had arrived, stayed, and were leaving together, they had a common purpose of trafficking drugs. 

On 1 August 1985 Barlow and Chambers attended their sentencing hearing to learn they had received the death sentence by hanging.

Barlow and Chambers were hanged in Pudu Prison on 7 July 1986. Kevin Barlow's mother Barbara Barlow reportedly prepared a suicide potion for her son to enable him to evade death by hanging. She prepared the mixture of 75 sleeping tablets dissolved in gin, whisky and brandy in her hotel room and smuggled it into the prison in a small plastic bottle concealed in her handbag. However, fearing her son would use it before all avenues of appeal had been exhausted she made the last-minute decision to keep the secret solution to herself

Malaysia has executed three Australians for drug offences in recent years.
Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers were hanged in July 1986, followed by Michael McAuliffe in June 1993.








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1867, July 1, Canadian Independence Day.  The autonomous Dominion of Canada, a confederation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the future provinces of Ontario and Quebec, is officially recognized by Great Britain with the passage of the British North America Act.
On July 1, 1867, with passage of the British North America Act, the Dominion of Canada was officially established as a self-governing entity within the British Empire. Two years later, Canada acquired the vast possessions of the Hudson's Bay Company, and within a decade the provinces of Manitoba and Prince Edward Island had joined the Canadian federation.
1979, July 1, The First Sony Walkman Goes on Sale.  The transistor radio was a technological marvel that put music literally into consumers' hands in the mid-1950s. It was cheap, it was reliable and it was portable, but it could never even approximate the sound quality of a record being played on a home stereo. It was, however, the only technology available to on-the-go music lovers until the Sony Corporation sparked a revolution in personal electronics with the introduction of the first personal stereo cassette player. A device as astonishing on first encounter as the cellular phone or digital camera would later be, the Sony Walkman went on sale for the very first time on July 1, 1979.
1984, July 1, PG-13 Rating Debuts. On this day in 1984, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which oversees the voluntary rating system for movies, introduces a new rating, PG-13.
The initial rating categories were G (appropriate for all ages), M (for mature audiences, but all ages admitted), R (persons under 16 not admitted without an accompanying adult) and X (no one under 17 admitted). The M category was eventually changed to PG (parental guidance suggested), the R age limit was raised to 17 and on July 1, 1984, the PG-13 category was added to indicate film content with a “higher level of intensity.” According to the MPAA, the content of a PG-13 film “may be inappropriate for a children under 13 years old” and “may contain very strong language, nudity (non-explicit), strong, mildly bloody violence or mild drug content.” On August 10, 1983, the action film Red Dawn, starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen, became the first-ever PG-13 movie to be released in theaters.
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