Life’s a beach for Toowoomba man turned Bali drug accused
One day ahead of his Bali drug smuggling trial, Toowoomba accountant and political wannabe Isaac Roberts strolled along a Bali beach, looking for all the world like a free man.
The early morning stroll along Sanur Beach, photographed by News Corp Australia, was part of the drug rehabilitation program which Roberts is currently undergoing.
The 35-year-old, who goes on trial in Denpasar District Court today on drug importation and possession charges which carry a maximum death penalty, would ordinarily have been locked up in Bali's Kerobokan jail while waiting for his trial to begin.
But, on the day he was due to be transferred to Kerobokan jail from police holding cells, his lawyers secured permission to move him instead to Bangli psychiatric hospital in Bali.
Roberts spent one night at Bangli before his lawyers got official approval for him to undergo a private drug rehabilitation program.
Under that program, Roberts has been living, for the past 12 days, at a house in Sanur, a beach suburb in the southeast of Bali, under the auspices of the Anargya Foundation which runs a private drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre called The Ark Bali.
His stay there is known to prosecutors and the court.
An official letter dated January 31, 2018, signed by the prosecutors and obtained by News Corporation., says: "Issue a letter to keep Isaac Emmanuel Roberts in rehabilitation Anargya Foundation in Denpasar".
As part of his drug addiction treatment, Roberts has been allowed to walk and run at the beach.
Roberts' stay at the private drug rehabilitation home and visits to the beach comes as fellow Australian drug suspect, Joshua James Baker, whose family says has suffered from a mental illness since the age of eight, remains in Kerobokan jail while on trial.
His family and lawyers have been fighting desperately, without success, to have him moved to a psychiatric institution for treatment, a move which even the jail doctor says should happen.
Yesterday, from about 6.30am, Roberts spent about an hour at the beach, accompanied by a member of his legal team and staff from the drug rehabilitation program.
He was driven to the beach from the villa in a car. At the beach he took off his shoes and ran south for about 300 metres before coming back, strolling along the beach before having breakfast inside a beachfront cafe.
Roberts' lawyer Edward Pangkahila, said his client was undergoing treatment for a severe drug addiction which had been ongoing for years before his December arrest at Bali airport.
"Isaac needs to undergo the drug rehabilitation program as he has a severe addiction. He has been addicted for so many years. He needs the therapy to free him from the addiction," Mr Pangkahila said.
"We are ready for the trial. I think Isaac is also ready for it. We hope so," he said.
It is understood that Roberts has visited the beach several times as part of his drug therapy. The facility also includes a small gym inside the home which Roberts has been using.
The Ark Bali is run by the brother of Roberts' lawyer. Their father is also a doctor.
The Ark Bali's clinical manager, Evan Pangkahila, told News Corp that Roberts was allowed out to the beach, for a maximum of one hour under the program.
He said the rehabilitation program was run from a psychological perspective.
"He must wake up in the morning, have breakfast, do a 'just for today' daily meditation session, then we have a book reading session and discuss it together, exercise, lunch and counselling," Evan Pangkahila said.
He said Roberts was not locked up in a room.
"No, he is not locked up. But we have one staff member that is always with him. Especially, as he has a legal problem, we fully understand that he is not a free person. So we should keep him safe as we have responsibility to the prosecutor," Mr Pangkahila said.
"He can go out with our staff, not alone. And we limit the time. He can go out to do exercise, maybe to the beach or to the gym. That's for the wellness session. We also have a small gym inside the villa."
Mr Pangkahila said during the first week of the program Roberts was in an adaptation phase with his new environment as he was still shocked about this case and arrest. But he is now much better.
He was also treated once a week by a psychiatrist.
Mr Pangkahila said the drug rehabilitation program normally ran for at least three months.
"However this is a special treatment as there is a legal case so it will depend on his sentence."
Until last week Roberts' mother has been in Bali supporting him with the program. It is understood a friend is now with him. Several times since his arrest he has been treated at the police hospital, including shortly before he went to The Ark program.
Roberts, a former high-flying accountant who has worked in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne and former political aspirant, was arrested on December 4 last year when he flew into Bali airport.
In 2009 Roberts stood as a Liberal Democrats candidate in a by-election for the blue ribbon Melbourne seat of Higgins.
Campaign material at the time described him as advising large private companies and high-wealth individuals on tax policy and legislation.
Prosecutors will today allege that secreted inside his luggage was 20.54 grams of methamphetamine and ecstasy.
The indictment against him, which will be read to court says that Roberts will face three alternative charges - importation or drug possession or using drugs for himself.
The lesser charge, of personal use, carries a four-year maximum term or an order to undergo rehabilitation. Because the charges are alternative, he would be convicted of only one.
He also faces two alternative charges in relation to possession of 22ml of the restricted substance, Alprazolam or Xanax, under psychotropic drug laws.
After his arrest Roberts was paraded in front of the media wearing a black balaclava.
Clearly furious, he told the media he was a drug addict and that it was ridiculous to parade him like that and to punish addicts.
At the time he suggested he had been set up by someone working for Indonesian Customs who knew he was coming and would "bring something".
Roberts will face Denpasar District Court today (Monday).
Meanwhile, fellow Queenslander, Joshua James Baker, who has been unable to secure a move out of Kerobokan jail, faces the same court on Tuesday for his ongoing trial where the first prosecution witnesses will be called.