Drug accused faces death or freedom
Drug accused faces death or freedom

A Perth man has escaped the death penalty for a second time after a Malaysian court rejected an appeal by prosecutors against his acquittal on drug charges.

Alleged drug trafficker Dominic Bird faced the Malaysian Court of Appeal today after he was found not guilty last September.

The court reviewed whether a judge erred in the original trial after explosive allegations that police had acted corruptly.

Mr Bird claimed he was set up by officers who planted the drugs on him.

In a unanimous decision, the panel of three judges ruled that the trial judge had not erred in throwing out the testimony of police and that the defence had presented enough reasonable doubt to warrant acquittal.

Justice Aziah Ali, the chairwoman of the panel of three judges, said that it was clear from the High Court judge’s earlier ruling that he had found a police officer to be completely unreliable as a witness.

“That’s the difficulty for you because your witness on whose evidence the case of the prosecution lies has been found to be not credible - a liar,” Justice Aziah said in addressing the prosecutor.

Prosecutor Awang Armadajaya said he would consult with his superiors at the Attorney-General’s office about whether or not to pursue Mr Bird.

The prosecution has 14 days to appeal, and Mr Awang said he may seek an injunction to prevent Mr Bird from leaving Malaysia while the Attorney-General’s office considers its options.

Lawyers for Mr Bird immediately set about trying to secure his passport, and said plans would be made as soon as possible to book a flight back to Perth.

Outside court after the verdict, Mr Bird said whole experience made him appreciate Australia, his family and friends a lot more.

"We had a strong case from the start and I never had any doubt whatsoever and ... I did not have a single grain of doubt that this would be the outcome," he said.

"There is no point looking over your shoulder after something like this, you have just got to look forward and just appreciate things a little bit more ... appreciating freedom, appreciating your family, appreciating Australia and what they have done for me as a country."

Earlier today, Mr Bird said: "I am confident, very confident, we have a very strong case."

Looking relaxed and healthy, the 34-year-old was met at the court building by his father who had flown from Perth for the hearing, hoping to be able to bring his son back home with him tonight.

Just a week before the end of his original trial, the corruption claims were given a significant boost when the lead investigator was caught attempting to bribe and intimidate a witness in the case.

"All the evidence circles around his (the officer's) word and his testimony," Mr Bird said.

"They have no video evidence or wire recordings of conversations or any like that, his testimony is what they are relying on alone."

But prosecutors have argued during the appeal that the officer's evidence should not have been discounted, resulting in a "serious miscarriage of justice".

Had he been convicted, prosecutors had indicated they would seek the death penalty.

Mr Bird said if he is allowed to go home, he was looking forward to eating Australian food again.

"Looking forward to seeing my family and friends again and getting back to a bit of, you know, Aussie culture again and away from this weather - I am actually looking forward to winter," he said.

Mr Bird is no stranger to trouble.

The former Fremantle Christian Brothers College student was jailed for three years in 2003 after being convicted in a Perth court of possessing with intent to sell or supply 9g of methylamphetamine.

But he has maintained his innocence on the current charges, claiming police set him up by planting the drugs on him in March 2012.

At his trial last year, Mr Bird said he moved from his home in Success to Kuala Lumpur in late 2011 to set up a personal training business.

The Australian Government has been helping with Mr Bird's legal bills since his arrest.

But the Government refused to reveal yesterday how much those legal bills had cost taxpayers.

with AAP

The West Australian

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