International News

An Australian grandmother has been sentenced to death in Malaysia after possible online romance scam

Her lawyer has told the press that an appeal will be filed in the Federal Court.

By Holly Royce
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, a 54-year-old grandmother from Sydney, Australia, has been sentenced to death by hanging after a Malaysian court reversed an earlier clearance of drug smuggling charges.
Maria - a mother of four- was found to be in possession of 1.1 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine at Kuala Lumpur International Airport while travelling from Shanghai to Melbourne in 2014.
The drugs were discovered by Customs officers, who found them hidden in the lining of a bag which was allegedly given to Maria by an online boyfriend, who she only knew as "Captain Daniel Smith" from the US Special Forces.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto leaving court.
Maria spent three years in prison, and in December 2017 she was found not guilty of drug trafficking, with a judge ruling she was just an innocent carrier duped by an online scam.
After the verdict was delivered, the 54-year-old Australian Grandmother was released on bail in Malaysia in January. She was unable to return home due to the prosecution filing an appeal.
Maria was found guilty of the drug charges this morning and will now face death by hanging, despite a recent change in Malaysian law which says convicted drug mules are not required to be sentenced to death.
Full consular assistance will continue being offered to Maria by Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs.
Her lawyer has told the press that an appeal will be filed in the Federal Court.