Kiwi man jailed for 11 years in Borneo after being caught with methamphetamine
A judge in Borneo has sentenced a New Zealand citizen to 11 years in jail for drug offences.
Gregory John Harland-White, 53, is believed to be the same man who, in order to buy presents for his children, once robbed an Australian bank wearing a Santa Claus suit, but forgot to take off his Santa pants and was caught trying to unchain a getaway bicycle.
Harland-White was sentenced this month in Balikpapan, Indonesia.
Known as Greg, he was arrested in October and found with 29.7 grams of crystal methamphetamine, Indonesian media reported.
The spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Monday it was aware of Harland-White’s detention.
“Consular assistance is being provided to him by the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta.”
Harland-White was also fined about $86,000.
The Jakarta Post said that when police arrested Harland-White in East Kalimantan, they confiscated a digital scale, a car, and 29.7 grams of crystal meth.
Harland reportedly took the methamphetamine from Malaysia by boat to Batam, an Indonesian province near Singapore, then flew with the drugs to Balikpapan, some 3000km away.
“Before he was arrested, Gregory successfully passed the examination at the airport by tying the drugs to his leg with black duct tape,” the Post added.
Crystal meth was known locally as sabu-sabu. Lonely Planet described Balikpapan, a port city of 700,000 people, as the only cosmopolitan city in Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo.
It was not immediately clear when Harland-White last lived in New Zealand.
One of his relatives in Australia declined to comment on Monday.
According to Australian reports from 2003, a man of the exact same name, who was aged 40 at the time, faced court after the drug-addled Santa Claus bank robbery in Tasmania.
He went to draw money for his childrens’ Christmas presents at a Westpac bank in King’s Meadows, Launceston, according to one report.
When told he could only draw a small amount from his account, he decided to rob the bank.
He left with about $14,000 but was caught soon after while trying to unlock his “get-away” bicycle.
The Mercury of Tasmania reported Harland-White’s lawyer saying his client’s mind was “befuddled” by a combination of drugs and alcohol.
A person familiar with the case, who was shown pictures of Harland-White in an Indonesian jumpsuit, believed it was the same person.
Harland-White is not the first Kiwi to fall foul of Indonesia’s drug laws.
In January, New Zealand woman Myra Lynne William went on trial after being arrested in Bali.
She was detained in September after allegedly carrying 0.43g of meth, and faced up to four years in jail.
Another New Zealander, Antony de Malmanche, was jailed in mid-2015 for drug trafficking.