Secret witness key to who framed socialite’s dad for cocaine

 

Exclusive: An overheard conversation may hold the key to who framed Aussie jewellery designer to the stars Amber Sceats' stepfather on the drug smuggling charges which landed him on death row in Singapore.

A witness has come forward with information which might help reveal a potential person of interest and their motive for setting up businessman Phillip George Sceats.

It comes as News Corp Australia can reveal NSW Police will seek to interview Mr Sceats after his harrowing 353 day order on death was revealed yesterday.

Details of the private conversation - which took place in Sydney before Mr Sceats travelled overseas - were included in a dossier of evidence given to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) by a group of former high-ranking police officers.

Philip George Sceats’ harrowing death row hell can finally be revealed. Picture: Supplied
Philip George Sceats’ harrowing death row hell can finally be revealed. Picture: Supplied

The former officers were hired by Mr Sceats' family who were desperately trying to find out who had planted drugs in the suitcase of the then 64-year-old and tipped off Singapore authorities before he arrived.

Mr Sceats was saved after an international investigation headed by top Singaporean lawyer Amarick Gill, Singapore investigators from the Central Narcotics Bureau and a team in Australia which included former Queensland police officer Oliver Laurence, former Queensland Police Assistant Commissioner Graham Rynders, former NSW Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas and former Victorian police officer Ken Clark.

The case has sparked widespread concern that this could happen again.

Independent Federal Senator Rex Patrick has flagged he will be asking questions in Senate Estimates this week, while NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said yesterday there is an urgent need to fully investigate this case.

Mr Sceats’ suitcase which contained the drugs.
Mr Sceats’ suitcase which contained the drugs.

"There must be a commitment for a fully resourced police task force to identify the truth," Mr Shoebridge told News Corp Australia.

The two packages of cocaine which were found taped to the inside of Mr Sceats’ suitcase.
The two packages of cocaine which were found taped to the inside of Mr Sceats’ suitcase.

"Thankfully this was an Australian citizen who had the resources to prove his innocence. I shudder to think what would have happened if that was not the case," he said.

A 12-page overview of the investigation put together by the former officers - including potential persons of interests - was given to the AFP in late 2018 but Mr Laurence said the AFP never even responded to him.

Freedom of information requests by this journalist, who was also consulted in the investigation into Mr Sceats' framing, have revealed a trail of documents about the case held by the AFP, which they have declined to release.

 

 

Some of the documents include discussions with a foreign government, presumed to be Singapore.

A brief of the alleged criminal conspiracy which took place in NSW had been given to the NSW Police, who opened an investigation at the time. It is understood they referred the matter to the AFP.

However arrangements are now being made for Mr Sceats to talk to NSW Police.

The dossier of evidence contains a statement from a witness revealing an overheard private conversation.

Mr Sceats’ family hired top Singapore lawyer Amarick Gill.
Mr Sceats’ family hired top Singapore lawyer Amarick Gill.

"It became clear to us early in the investigation that Philip Sceats was the subject of an elaborate set up," Mr Rynders said.

Former Victorian police officer Ken Clark.
Former Victorian police officer Ken Clark.

"The evidence considered in its entirety pointed to the fact that circumstantially he did not conceal cocaine in his luggage. It simply did not make sense.

"We held the view that more than likely one or more people had set him up and this was strongly supported by the evidence we had obtained.

"The consequences of those actions led to him being incarcerated on death row in Changi prison and ultimately could have cost him his life," Mr Rynders said.

"Thankfully it didn't."

Former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas.
Former NSW Police Deputy Commissioner Nick Kaldas.

Mr Sceats was arrested on March 7, 2018 while transiting through Changi Airport on his way to a surprise holiday in Lagkawi to mark his 64th birthday. He was due to meet up with wife of 34 years Jeanette who was in Hong Kong for business.

But when he left the aircraft in Singapore, where he was to spend a few hours before getting another plane to Malaysia, airport officials were waiting for him.

They already had his name and asked him to point out his suitcase when it came out of the baggage carousel.

Mr Sceats’ stepdaughter, jewellery designer Amber and wife Jeanette Sceats.
Mr Sceats’ stepdaughter, jewellery designer Amber and wife Jeanette Sceats.

"When they pulled me up and said there was cocaine in my bag, I thought someone was playing a joke on me and it must be sugar," he told News Corp Australia.

"The bags were kind of stuck to the inside of my bag (with masking tape) and they were a bit like a neon sign," he said.

But it was no joke.

Arrested on the spot and later charged with trafficking cocaine, Mr Sceats was about to be the first Australian hanged for drug offences since the 2005 hanging of Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van.

Mr Sceats celebrating his release from death row with his lawyer Mr Gill.
Mr Sceats celebrating his release from death row with his lawyer Mr Gill.

In a rare move the charges against him were dropped by the Singaporean authorities and he was allowed to return to Australia.

He now wants answers as to what happened to him and why.

Former NSW Police Minister and former Labor Leader Michael Daley said this matter must be investigated not only to bring justice for Mr Sceats, but to give confidence to Australian travellers in the future that the Australian authorities are there to help them.

Originally published as Secret witness key to who framed socialite's dad for cocaine

Former Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Graham Rynders.
Former Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Graham Rynders.
Former Queensland police officer turned private investigator Oliver Laurence was also hired by the family.
Former Queensland police officer turned private investigator Oliver Laurence was also hired by the family.

Premier announces NSW-QLD border decision

Premium Content Premier announces NSW-QLD border decision

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announces border decision

‘TOTAL LOSS:’ Surat house destroyed in overnight blaze

Premium Content ‘TOTAL LOSS:’ Surat house destroyed in overnight blaze

EMERGENCY services attended a blaze that completely destroyed a building overnight...

Roma Toastmasters ceremoniously celebrates 25 Years

Premium Content Roma Toastmasters ceremoniously celebrates 25 Years

THE club is to thank for improving the communication, efficiency and leadership...