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New Zealander Antony de Malmanche is trapped in a “living hell”, rotting in an “inhumane” Bali prison. Devastated at the recent decision to refuse parole, he fears that he’ll only fly back to Aotearoa in a coffin.

Eight years in to a 15-year sentence for alleged drug smuggling in 2014, de Malmanche, his legal team and his children all maintain his innocence, and that he is a victim of a criminal romance scam.

Parole in Bali was denied to Malmanche, as the New Zealand government would have had to make an agreement with the Indonesian authorities.

“We were gutted at the parole decision. We were really hoping he’d be released at this point. Dad is guilty of nothing but being gullible. He does not deserve to die,” said his son, Shaun de Malmanche, speaking from his home in Palmerston North.

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With hope crushed by the parole decision, the 61-year-old wonders how he will survive to walk through the prison gates on his scheduled release date in 2028, and if he will ever see his four sons, grandchildren, or Aotearoa, again.

Skeletal and having lost all his teeth, he now weighs just 50kg.

“It’s the worst thing that happened to me, being turned down for parole last month,” he told Stuff from his cell in Bali’s notorious Kerobokan prison – once home to Australians Schapelle Corby, and the Bali 9.

The entrance to the notorious Kerobokan Prison, Bali, Indonesia.

DAVID ELIT/Stuff

The entrance to the notorious Kerobokan Prison, Bali, Indonesia.

De Malmanche’s Tauranga-based lawyer, Craig Tuck, who is currently visiting him in Bali, says de Malmanche is in bad shape.

A New Zealand barrister, Tuck is founder of LawAid International Chambers, specialising in human rights cases and transnational criminal law. He acts for De Malmanche on a pro bono basis.

“Tony has not been able to get parole in Bali as it would require the New Zealand government to guarantee certain conditions. There has not been a precedent for this in New Zealand unlike in Australia when Australian citizen Schapelle Corby was paroled in Bali for three years after a ten-year stint.”

Hotel K as locals call it, is overcrowded, dirty, has no hot water, mattresses and limited food, said de Malmanche.

“Lack of food has caused my huge weight loss. I was 75kg when I got here. Recently the meals have degraded immensely – each day I get a cup and a quarter of rice with a one cm cube of chicken, which is mostly bone, a small mouthful of cabbage or beans, but that’s usually too hard to chew with no teeth,” he said.

De Malmanche’s health is rapidly deteriorating. He’s in constant pain from kidney stones, and has a weak heart –at his original trial he was rushed to hospital when he collapsed with heart issues.

“My health is not good, I’m getting worse.”

He struggles to breathe because his ribs are broken from untreated injuries sustained in prison. The jail is infamous for violence, controlled by gangs who sell drugs and are involved in protection and extortion rackets.

Relentless anguish from years of captivity in squalid conditions is exacerbated by lack of sleep, as the lights in cells are kept on 24/7.

“My mental health has been up and down, mainly due to the sleep deprivation from bright lights on all night. I’m unable to sleep in the daytime because the power is off, so there are no fans.”

Tauranga-based lawyer Craig Tuck in the Bali courtroom cell where Whanganui man Antony de Malmanche was sentenced to 15-years.

supplied

Tauranga-based lawyer Craig Tuck in the Bali courtroom cell where Whanganui man Antony de Malmanche was sentenced to 15-years.

His living conditions have worsened since he was moved to a new block in the prison where he is squeezed into a small cell he shares with 15 other inmates.

“Such inhumane conditions. Packed in like sardines in a can. No privacy to shower or go to toilet, as there is only a low 3ft wall, and the stink when someone takes a dump is so bad.”

With the heat, no air conditioning and poor hygiene, Covid and flu are rife throughout the prison, with little ability even to wash hands.

“I get sick a lot from the overcrowding. Flu spreads so fast. Hygiene is not good.”

He only has a few friends inside the prison, and was traumatised when one died.

“We lost him after doing CPR for 45 minutes waiting for a doctor to come.”

There is an ambulance in prison, but it rarely leaves as prisoners have to pay the escort fee. De Malmanche would have to pay for doctors or a dentist, and extra food.

He tries hard to make the best of it. Well trusted by the guards, he started a clinic for addiction and counselling services to help prisoners.

Accused Australian drug runner Schapelle Corby received a 20-year sentence in 2005 for alleged smuggling of 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali, but her sentence was reduced on clemency grounds, and she was granted parole in Bali.

Dimas Ardian / Getty Images/Getty Images

Accused Australian drug runner Schapelle Corby received a 20-year sentence in 2005 for alleged smuggling of 4.1kg of marijuana into Bali, but her sentence was reduced on clemency grounds, and she was granted parole in Bali.

It is nothing like a New Zealand jail, said his lawyer Tuck.

“The authorities do their best with the limited resources available, but the reality is they have to hold more than 1600 prisoners in a facility that was meant to be for around 300.”

The parole decision was a huge blow to de Malmanche, who was hoping that the New Zealand government would support him so that he could at least serve the rest of his time in a residence in Bali.

Schapelle Corby, sentenced to 20-years in Kerobokan prison in 2005 was allowed to fly back to Australia in 2017 after her three years of parole in Bali. The then-president reduced her sentence on clemency grounds.

The New Zealand government does not have an international treaty for the transfer of prisoners.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two of the Australian Bali-nine, were executed in Bali in 2015 for heroin trafficking, after ten years on death row in prison there. (Photo by Jason Childs/Getty Images)

Jason Childs/Getty Images/Getty Images

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, two of the Australian Bali-nine, were executed in Bali in 2015 for heroin trafficking, after ten years on death row in prison there. (Photo by Jason Childs/Getty Images)

De Malmanche never planned to be in Bali. He flew from New Zealand to Hong Kong in December 2014, after developing a relationship with a woman on an online dating site. Her name was “Jessie Smith” who said she was a wealthy South African businesswoman in the cocoa trade.

His children were suspicious when de Malmanche first told them about “Jessie”, who he’d been talking to for months, said Shaun.

“We were all very suspicious of this Jessie person. Especially when she offered him flights. My father had never travelled overseas in his life. We told dad not to go, to not trust her. But dad believed he had found the one.”

Despite his children’s strong reservations, de Malmanche, along with his suitcase from the Whangarei op shop, took off to find love.

Instead, Bali airport officials found 1.7kg of crystal meth in his luggage.

De Malmanche has always denied knowing he was carrying drugs. His lawyers said that they were planted with de Malmanche by men he thought were his soon-to-be girlfriend’s employees.

The modest Kuta villa in which Schapelle Corby has been living while on parole in Bali.

AMILIA ROSA/Supplied

The modest Kuta villa in which Schapelle Corby has been living while on parole in Bali.

Evidence at his original trial revealed 450 pages of messages between “Jessie” and de Malmanche, which his lawyers argued demonstrated how he was sucked into the con.

Living a lonely single life in Whangarei and looking for a partner, de Malmanche was the perfect victim for a potential scammer. He has low IQ and poor mental health. He was abused as a child and had spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

Back in New Zealand, his 35-year-old son Shaun tries to stay positive for his father.

“He’s more than halfway through his sentence and I am still holding on to hope that he might be released earlier – however blind that hope may be.”

De Malmanche’s children have been his staunchest supporters, along with Tuck, fiercely defending his innocence. A Givealittle page has been set up to help fund de Malmanche’s medical expenses.

He hopes New Zealanders don’t forget about his father,

”This is a man who lived in a cheap rental in Castlecliff, Whanganui. He spent his days fishing and diving, giving extra fish away to people who needed it more than he did,”

“It’s been so long. People forget and life goes on. I meet new people and when they find out I’m his son they are surprised to know he is still there.”

For the family and his staunch group of supporters across New Zealand, his plight is never far from their hearts and minds, but Shaun has not been able to see him for years.

“We have visited him when we can. Five years ago we surprised him with a visit with the grand kids, on Father’s Day. But then Covid hit and now flights and everything are so expensive.”

“He has grandchildren he’s never seen. He’s getting old. I hope one day, we will see him again.”

De Malmanche, too, is clinging on to hope that he can survive to see his family, but doesn’t know if he’ll ever get to go fishing again in New Zealand.

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