The parents of an Australian-New Zealand citizen facing the death penalty in China for alleged drug smuggling have spoken out about their son’s plight.
Peter Gardner, 26, was arrested in November and it is claimed he tried to traffic 30 kilograms of methamphetamine out of China using his checked in luggage.
He was caught when customs officials at Guangzhou airport found the drugs.
Fairfax media reports that while his girlfriend Kalynda David, was released without charge after being held in custody for a month, Mr Gardner could face the firing squad.
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His trial was held this month in Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court and he is now awaiting a decision from the judge on his fate.
Gardner's parents, Russell Gardner and Sandy Cornelius, told New Zealand television show 3D that their son should not pay with his life for being duped into being a drug mule.
"No-one really deserves to die like that," said his father.
"No-one deserves to be executed."
The pair believe that Gardner became involved with gangs linked to Sydney's sport drug scene through his body building contacts.
They say Gardner got deep into debt with a gang, believed to be linked to Chinese organised crime group the Triads.
Gardner told his mother, Ms Cornelius, that he had been threatened.
"He said, 'I was shot at,'" Ms Cornelius said.
Gardner has told a Chinese court that he made a previous trip to Guangzhou last September to pick up performance-enhancing peptides, which he successfully brought into Australia.
The substance, legal with a prescription in New Zealand, was easily purchased in China.
Fairfax Media reports Gardner confessed to his mother after he had successfully handed over the peptides to Sydney Airport baggage handlers.
While he vowed to never do it again, he was arrested in China two months later.
Gardner claims he thought the package handed to him by two Chinese men at his Hilton Hotel in Guangzhou, contained peptides, not methamphetamine.
Barrister Craig Tuck told 3D there was 'good evidence to suggest that the syndicate or cartel had him under the hammer and were certainly keen for him to do certain things'.
"If Pete was duped effectively and exploited in the way it seems to have occurred, is this something that we want our sons, our daughters, our cousins, our parents, then exposed to being killed for that?" Tuck said.
When questioned what she would say to those deciding her son’s fate, Ms Cornelius said: “If it was one of your own, how would you deal with it.”
“If it was one of your own that came to you, that confessed to you all of the events, how would you deal with it.”
Morning news break - June 2