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Mountain strip Brit sentence 'fair'

Published 12/06/2015

Eleanor Hawkins is among a group of backpackers arrested after photos emerged of them allegedly stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu
Eleanor Hawkins is among a group of backpackers arrested after photos emerged of them allegedly stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu

The sentence given to a British woman convicted for stripping on a sacred Malaysian mountain is "fair" and she is "deeply sorry" for any offence caused, her father has said.

Backpacker Eleanor Hawkins, 23, pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence and was fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£859) and sentenced to three days in jail, which she has already served.

Lawyer Ronny Cham said Miss Hawkins, from Derby, will be freed from police custody tonight and her release documentation is currently being arranged.

In a statement to reporters outside his home, Timothy Hawkins said: "We think the sentence is appropriate and fair for the offence committed.

"I'm grateful that the Malaysian authorities reached this decision.

"Eleanor knows what she did was wrong and disrespectful and she is deeply sorry for any offence she's caused to the Malaysian people.

"We now look forward to having her back home but we don't know when this will be as we've no contact with the consulate in Kuala Lumpur and have not spoken to Ellie."

Miss Hawkins and three other backpackers were arrested after being blamed by locals for causing an earthquake which killed 18 people after they posed naked on the mountainside.

She and the other three tourists left Kota Kinabalu Magistrates' Court in Malaysia today through a crowd of photographers, her head bowed as she walked to a waiting car.

The aeronautical engineering graduate, from Derby, was arrested at Tawau airport on Tuesday as she was flying from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Miss Hawkins appeared in court alongside three other defendants - Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and a Dutch man.

They faced a maximum of three months in jail for their offence.

Several other backpackers who appeared in the photos remain wanted by police, according to reports.

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck the 13,400ft (4,084m) Mount Kinabalu last Friday, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds more stranded.

Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the earthquake six days later on the travellers showing "disrespect to the sacred mountain".

A recent graduate with a masters degree from Southampton University, Miss Hawkins was in the middle of a gap year travelling around south east Asia, which began in January.

She went to Malaysia at the start of May and later that month travelled to Borneo.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We remain in contact with Ms Hawkins and her family following this morning's court appearance, and will continue to provide consular assistance."

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