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Backpacker jailed after mountain nude stunt 'to be freed soon'

By PA reporter

A British woman blamed for triggering an earthquake after stripping on top of a sacred Malaysian mountain has been fined £1,000 and sentenced to three days in jail. Backpacker Eleanor Hawkins (23) and three other western tourists, who were also fined, have already served the time and will be freed.

She had admitted to the public nuisance offence during an appearance at Kota Kinabalu Magistrates Court in Malaysia.

The group of backpackers were arrested after photos emerged of them stripping naked on Mount Kinabalu.

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

Ms Hawkins and the three others were arrested after being blamed by locals for causing an earthquake which killed more than a dozen people after they posed naked on the mountainside.

During the hearing, the four denied claims that they told their guides to "go to hell".

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

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

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.

Her father said her sentence was "fair" and she is "deeply sorry" for any offence caused. She was also fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£859).

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."

Mr Hawkins has also criticised a Canadian - named in reports as 33-year-old Emil Kaminski - who is said to have circulated the photos and posted offensive comments on social media.

Miss Hawkins' lawyer said her client would be freed from police custody as soon as the paperwork was completed.

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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