‘Love scam’ mum fights for freedom
A QUEENSLAND schoolteacher jailed in Cambodia hasn't seen her young children in five years, but hopes to within months as she continues to fight for her release.
Yoshe Anne Taylor, 46, is likely to face the Court of Appeal for a retrial this year, after her 23-year drug trafficking sentence was quashed. She will argue she was duped in a sophisticated scam.
Taylor, who taught at both Esk and Fernvale schools, hasn't been face to face with her daughter and son who were just 11 and 6 when she was arrested in September 2013.
She told them she was going away for a week but never returned.
Taylor was stopped at Phnom Penh International Airport and was charged with trafficking heroin after officials found 2.2kg of heroin stitched into the spine of a backpack.
She said she did not know the drugs were there and told authorities she travelled overseas to start an Australian arm of an art company based in Cambodia.
Frenchwoman Charlene Savarino, 19, and her boyfriend, Nigerian Nwoko Precious Chineme, were also convicted of trafficking and were sentenced to 25 and 27 years respectively.
The Sunday Mail previously reported Taylor's defence had said she met Chineme, known as Precious Max, on an internet chatroom and travelled overseas to meet him in January 2013.
Emails have also been sighted that were sent by Taylor to real estate agents in September 2013 asking about properties on the Sunshine Coast.
"I'm only interested in premises of 100sq m or more preferably (sic) with a kitchette (sic) and toilet facilities," an email dated September 2 states.
A month earlier, in August 2013, two Australians were arrested by the Australian Federal Police in Perth and Melbourne and charged with importing heroin into Australia. Both had travelled from Cambodia.
The AFP passed this information on to Cambodian authorities who launched an investigation into the source. This led to the arrest of Chineme, Savarino and Taylor.
In 2016 the Appeals Court upheld Taylor's conviction but in July last year the Supreme Court of Cambodia quashed the drug smuggling conviction.
Her Australian-based defence team headed by solicitor Alex Wilson from firm Lethbridges Barristers and Solicitors said the decision was based in part of new evidence relating to a number of other cases involving Australian citizens who were "indisputably scammed" by Chineme.
The facts in the cases were strikingly similar, she said.
In these cases the Australians carried drugs hidden by Chineme or his associates.
They were all arrested at the airport entering Australia.
Charges were dropped or they were found not guilty in court.