Schapelle Corby returns to Brisbane a social media star
SCHAPELLE Corby is home free but yet to taste true freedom after a bizarre day in which she went into hiding but set herself up as a social media star.
Australia's most notorious jailbird flew back into Queensland early yesterday for the first time since she was busted in Bali in 2004 with 4.2kg of cannabis in her bodyboard bag. After almost a decade behind bars and three years on parole, the 39-year-old was deported from Indonesia on Saturday night.
From the moment she switched planes at Denpasar Airport at the last minute, to her cloak-and-dagger pre-dawn arrival in Brisbane, Corby managed to dodge multiple media crews and remained in hiding last night.
Authorities, including state and federal police, denied assisting the convicted drug smuggler's elaborate decoys, which had her spirited out of Brisbane Airport to a secret location, heightening speculation she may have negotiated a lucrative interview deal, despite proceeds of crime laws.
She attracted almost 125,000 followers on her new Instagram account set up at the weekend, with the potential to monetise her posts and profit from her infamy.
A spokeswoman for Corby's security team appeared on her behalf to thank her supporters. "In the spirit of humility and in the spirit of dignity, we ask all parties to show respect for the family's privacy during this time," she said.
Corby was believed to have been whisked away in a motorcade of black vans that split after leaving the airport.
There was speculation she was holed up at the Sofitel Hotel in Brisbane's CBD, or had somehow managed to evade waiting media and slip into her mother Rosleigh Rose's home at Loganlea, possibly through a neighbour's yard.
Corby's sister Mercedes, who accompanied her on the flight home from Bali, arrived at the Loganlea house along with their celebrity bodyguard John McLeod.
McLeod, a former Queensland police officer who protects stars including Roger Federer and Lady Gaga, shook hands with police as he left Ms Rose's property about 9am.
He later drove for hours around Brisbane and the northern Gold Coast, tailed by about nine media crews, before leading them back to the CBD. In bizarre scenes, people inside the Loganlea residence wearing horror masks taunted the media through windows.
There was more subterfuge at Mercedes' Tugun home on the southern Gold Coast when a Schapelle look-alike wearing a black hooded cape turned up.
A woman who said she was Ms Rose's sister and Schapelle's "Aunty Jen'', who lives at the Tugun duplex, claimed she had no idea where her niece was. "I know as much as what you guys do," she told reporters.
Jen said she did not know if Schapelle would be coming back to live with Mercedes at Tugun. "(If she does) I'll just give her a peck on the cheek and a massive hug," she said.
Jen later left the Tugun property through a back gate and travelled to Ms Rose's house, arriving with a $600 bottle of Belvedere vodka.
Pavlova and Black Forest cake were delivered to the house for what appeared to be a celebration, but there was no sign of Corby.
Adding to the mystery, an SUV carrying Rosleigh Rose arrived at the Loganlea residence about 5pm yesterday.