A Malaysian flight attendant caught smuggling millions of dollars worth of heroin in her underwear last year has been sentenced to jail in Australia
According to ABC News, the Australian County Court sentenced Zailee Zainal on Thursday, 8 October, to nine and a half years in jail for playing a part in a Melbourne-based drug syndicate.
The 40-year-old mother of three was busted by the Australian Border Force at the Melbourne Tullamarine Airport in 2019, after heroin was found in her bra and underwear.
The Australian court showed Zailee some leniency in its sentence after hearing she was desperate to pay her daughter's medical bills
It was learnt that Zailee only agreed to smuggle the drugs because her daughter was born with a serious anorectal abnormality that requires ongoing surgeries and medication, which mounted hefty hospital bills.
According to 7NEWS, while meting out the sentence, County Court Judge Michael Cahill said, "There is a place for the exercise of mercy in sentencing. You felt that you had no other option other than to commit a crime."
"You were desperate to raise money to pay for the operations your daughter needs to improve her quality of life."
He also noted that Zailee was "profoundly remorseful" and had written a letter of apology.
The court heard that Zailee, who was working at Malindo Air, was recruited by the drug syndicate when they learnt she was in great need of money
After drawing down on her mortgage, Zailee had first taken to selling brownies and Tupperware to make ends meet.
But when that failed, she asked the airline company to reach out for donations on her behalf.
"It was after that email that someone I thought was a friend approached me as a carrier. I was vulnerable and at the time willing to do anything," Zailee told the court.
She earned AUD6,500 (MYR19,400) smuggling heroin eight times between October 2018 and January 2019 into Australia
It took her three months to learn to walk confidently with 1kg packages of heroin strapped between her legs. In total, Zailee brought in around AUD3 million (RM9 million) worth of heroin in street value.
Each time she arrived in Melbourne, she gave the drugs to another woman, known as 'rich aunty', in a hotel toilet in exchange for about AUD155,000 (RM460,000) a package.
When she was caught, Zailee fully confessed to the crime but told investigators she thought she was carrying marijuana.
Zailee has already spent almost two years behind bars waiting for the sentence
The court heard that Zailee, who does not drink or do drugs, has been attending Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous in prison to understand the impact of drugs.
She has also been calling her children while in prison to help them with their homeschooling.
"At that time, I only thought about (my daughter) and my family. I did not think about what these drugs could do to someone else, or their family, or friends," she told the court.
"I'm deeply ashamed and so sorry I became involved."
Zailee will be eligible for parole after serving another three years.