Naked photo sentence was fair, says Eleanor Hawkins' father
ELEANOR Hawkins, the 23-year-old from Derby in England who was arrested for being photographed topless on a Malaysian mountain, has been freed by a judge in Kota Kinabalu.
The judge sentenced Ms Hawkins and three others - Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Peterson, and Dutchman Dylan Snel - to three days in prison. But given that they had already been held since Tuesday afternoon, they were freed on Friday night.
They were also ordered to pay a fine of 5,000 Malaysian ringgits (£858). Their lawyer paid the fine and the backpackers will be deported.
Lawyer Ronny Cham said her release documentation was being arranged but the earliest flight back to the UK is 6am (local time) on Saturday.
Ms Hawkins had previously appeared before the judge on Wednesday morning, wearing a purple prison jumpsuit.
On Friday, dressed in jeans and a sweatshirt, she covered her face as she entered the packed courtroom to hear their lawyer say that the four were prepared to make a public apology and pay a fine, leaving the country immediately, in return for avoiding prison. They could have faced three months in prison for obscenity.
Her father Timothy said the sentence given to his daughter was "appropriate" and "fair" and confirmed the family were now waiting to be told when she would be coming home.
Mr Hawkins said he was concerned over videos that seemed to shoe her being "treated pretty badly" as she was escourted in and out of court.
The trouble began on May 30, when Ms Hawkins joined nine others to climb Mt Kinabalu, a mountain sacred to the local Dasun people, in the north of the island of Borneo. On reaching the summit the group removed their clothes for a photograph, which was published on social media - to the anger of many Malaysians.
A June 5 earthquake which killed 18 was even said by local politicians as a sign that the mountain was angry at their behaviour. Ms Hawkins, with a masters in aeronautical engineering, had been travelling solo around south east Asia since January, visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
She had intended to continue to Singapore and Hong Kong, but on Friday evening it was not clear whether she would resume her travels or return home to Draycott.
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We remain in contact with Ms Hawkins and her family following this morning's court appearance, and will continue to provide consular assistance."
On Thursday her father said his daughter was sorry for any offence caused by her actions.
He said: "She knows what she did was stupid and disrespectful and is very sorry for the offence that she has caused the Malaysian people.