Australian heroin smuggler sentenced to life in HCM City

By Hai Duyen   May 31, 2016 | 11:06 am GMT+7

A court in Ho Chi Minh City yesterday sentenced an Australian man to life in prison for attempting to smuggle 3.5 kilograms of heroin to Sydney.

Nathan Andrew James, 34, was arrested at Tan Son Nhat Airport in October 2013 as he checked in for a flight to Sydney. Customs officers detected the drugs hidden in his luggage.

In Australia, James owed a Vietnamese-Australian only known as Tim some money but could not repay his debt. Tim promised to clear the debt and sponsor a trip for Tim and his family to visit Vietnam on the provison that he carried two suitcases back to Sydney.

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Nathan James seen in court. Photo by VnExpress/ T.M

In October 2013, James and his family travelled to Phan Thiet and then Ho Chi Minh City. One night, Tim hired taxis to take James around the city. They changed taxis many times and then picked up the suitcases.

James was facing the death penalty but the court was lenient due to his history of restricted cognitive capability.

In Vietnam, people found in possession of more than 600 grams of heroin or more than 2.5 kilograms of methamphetamine face the death penalty. The death penalty is also applied to those who produce or sell 100 grams of heroin or 300 grams of other illegal narcotics.

His wife and children were unaware of the deal and returned to Australia several days after his arrest.

Police said there was not enough evidence to convict Tim.