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Man arrested in Bali after 1.7kg of crystal meth is found in his backpack at airport claims he was duped in a dating scam by a woman named Jessie

Daily Mail, December 9, 2014

A New Zealand man who was is facing the death penalty in Bali after allegedly smuggling 1.7kg of crystal methamphetamine into the country claims he was in the popular holiday destination after being tricked as part of a dating scam.

Welfare recipient Antony De Malmanche, who was reportedly paid 'shopping money' to smuggle Ice into Bali, has told authorities he is innocent.

The 52-year-old told reporters at a hospital in Bali’s capital Denpasar on Tuesday that he travelled to China, then Hong Kong, and on to Bali because he was trying to meet a woman named ‘Jessie’ who he met online.

He said she has now turned out to be a ‘fake’ after promising to marry him.

De Malmanche told the Sydney Morning Herald: ‘Originally she was to meet me in China and then they made some excuse that she couldn't make it, so they said to meet here, that they'd bought a ticket that she was already here.’

He said he had ‘no knowledge’ of an international drug ring but reportedly said of the drugs: ‘Hong Kong customs cleared it; I thought I was sweet, and then got here and, no.’

His friend in New Zealand has set up an online legal fund to raise money, writing: ‘Antony de Malmanche, victim of an internet dating scam needs our help. He's been arrested in Bali for allegedly smuggling drugs into the country.

‘He needs a lawyer to help clear his name and money for food. He will be in pain and unsure of what's going to happen to him as the the penalties over in Bali are very strict and the death penalty is a very real outcome.

Christine Thomas pleaded: ‘Please help us bring this Dad, Father in law, Grandfather and all round good guy home. He is greatly missed. We won't give up!’

So far almost $8,000 has been donated.

However, customs officers at the airport were alerted after De Malmanche began acting suspiciously while collecting his luggage on Monday morning.

'From X-ray examination, we found something suspicious in his green backpack,' the airport's head of customs office Budi Harjanto told reporters in Bali on Friday.

‘After checking, we found a package with clear plastic wrapping, wrapped again with red plastic and brown duct tape. Inside, there's clear crystal weighed 1,709 gram total.'

A narcotics test found the crystal was methamphetamine, he said.

De Malmanche was charged under a section of Indonesia's narcotics law that carries a maximum penalty of death and a one billion rupiah ($A97,037) fine.

The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it's aware of the reports from Bali but hasn't been contacted for consular assistance or advice.