I have been a Corby supporter from the day I read in the newspapers that a young woman had been arrested at Ngurah Rai Airport for taking marijuana from Brisbane to Bali. In all that time I had never laughed so much as when I heard that Jodie Powers, the ex-girlfriend of Schapelle’s sister, Mercedes, was cashing in with Channel 7.
Of course, most people who believe that Schapelle is guilty might think that’s strange but the Jodie Powers / Channel 7 attack on the Corbys in February of 2007 actually highlighted several critical faults in the guilty perspective.
Schapelle is to be imprisoned in an Indonesian jail for the next 20 years but no one can tell us what crime she actually committed. Was she a mule - an insignificant cog in an operation sending tons of “Aussie Gold” to Bali? Or was she the ‘Ms Big’ whose arrest halted the flow of drugs to Indonesia? Did she grow the marijuana herself? Was it grown hydroponically or in the Corbys back garden? 4.1kg? That’s in excess of 20 large plants or 30-40 smaller ones and the evidence for it would still be there to this day even after three years.
As far as the public was concerned, if Schapelle was guilty then the rest of her family had to be involved. When Schapelle was arrested the charge against her meant that she was taking the drugs to Mercedes’ home in Bali. Schapelle packed her bags in front of her sick father and she and her travelling companions were driven to the airport by her mother. If Schapelle grew the marijuana herself there would be no way she could hide it from those near and dear.
This created a problem for the Australian authorities because if Schapelle was guilty so were her family.
So the Channel 7 / Today Tonight team tried to address this problem by launching an attack on the Corbys. Like their treatment of child-support-defaulting husbands, real-estate con men, and shonky builders, they pursued Mercedes in a way that has become almost traditional for this style of program. In addition, they had the cash-hungry ‘witness’, Jodie Powers and this is where things started going down hill for the Seven network.
Jodie told us that Schapelle’s mother was flying around Australia with bags of marijuana. She said that Space Bags, full of marijuana, were left lying around the house and that Jodie’s mother who wasn’t that close to the family had been asked to transport their produce to Byron Bay. Jodie even claimed that a customs officer at Ngurah Rai airport was in their employ. According to Jodie the Corbys were the biggest drug mafia family in Australia.
Jodie's claims were either outrageous lies or the Corby's household was just about to become overun with police. However, if Schapelle were guilty then how could Jody be lying? If Jodie was not lying then why did the Australian authorities completely ignore Jodie's claims?
In their attempt to condemn the Corbys, Channel Seven had highlighted some truths: In spite of Schapelle’s conviction in Indonesia Australian law enforcement have never publicly investigated Schapelle or her family for a crime committed here. Was that because their finding would have cleared Schapelle?
During a news conference, when Mick Keelty was asked why the AFP had not investigated the Corbys for a crime committed here he replied,
“It is not the job of the Australian Federal Police to clear people.”
Obviously Channel 7 and Australia missed that. The other truth was that if Schapelle really was guilty then her family either condoned her activities or were equally involved because given the circumstances of Schapelle’s living situation there was no way they could be unaware.
This is when Channel 9 stepped in to confront Today Tonight and to challenge them over Jodie Power’s testimony. They didn’t do it to save Schapelle or to prove that Schapelle was innocent – just the opposite, in fact.
You see, Channel 7 were dangerously close to proving that if the Corby family knew nothing of the marijuana that convicted Schapelle there was no way Schapelle could be guilty.