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“He’s very important to me”: Everything you need to know about Schapelle Corby’s boyfriend, who she met in a Balinese prison

The SAS Australia star is smitten.
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She’s come a long way since being released from prison in Bali, and Schapelle Corby has taken no time to move on with her life.

That included her personal relationships – her boyfriend Ben Panangian has piqued the interest of many over the years as their unique dynamic has been detailed to the world via interviews and snippets on her Instagram page.

Schapelle credits her surfer beau as her saving grace that got her through nine years in Kerobokan jail.

In 2018, Woman’s Day revealed a series of images of the pair enjoying a romantic stay at a beachfront resort in Vietnam.

Ben, 37, flew from Bali to Singapore, where he met up with Schapelle, the woman he’s been pining for ever since she was deported from Indonesia in May 2017.

“I didn’t recognise her immediately, but when she took her sunnies off, I knew it was Schapelle,” an Aussie holidaymaker, who was staying at the same resort on My Khe Beach, near Da Nang, said at the time.

“She seemed so happy, and wherever she was he was by her side. It was actually really nice to see. If I hadn’t realised who she was, I would’ve just thought they were a couple of young honeymooners.

“He seemed to dote on her.”

Schapelle met Ben in Kerobokan in 2006.


The pair reunited in Singapore before heading to Vietnam.


Longtime loves

It’s been a long-time relationship.

A close friend of Schapelle Corby’s told Woman’s Day that Schapelle was “beyond excited” at the prospect of seeing Ben for that fateful holiday in Vietnam, but was “nervous” about boarding a flight as it was the first time she’d been on a plane since leaving Bali.

“She’s missed Ben desperately. They’re soulmates and it broke both their hearts to be separated for such a long time.

“I know they speak all the time on the phone, but it’s not the same. She’s been looking forward to this for ages.”

Today, Schapelle is more loved up than ever. She told Sunrise in October 2020 that Ben was “very important” to her.

“He’s a huge motivator for me, he’s a big part of my life,” the 43-year-old gushed.

“We speak to each other three or four times a day.”

Schapelle and Ben were pictured on a Vietnam holiday in 2018.


Soaking up the sun, the couple looked thrilled to be back in one another’s company.


How did Schapelle Corby meet her boyfriend?

Schapelle met Ben in 2006 at a church service in Kerobokan Prison, where he was also serving time for drug possession, and love blossomed.

“I made a bad choice in my life,” he explained to New Idea in 2017.

“I was smoking socially with friends at the beach – we were arrested.”

He bumped into Schapelle during her first week behind bars, and the rest, as they say, was history.

“She was very friendly and I also thought she was very beautiful. I looked forward to going to church to see her, and she was happy to have someone to speak English with,” he said.

When she was granted parole just over four years ago on the condition she remained in Indonesia, Ben lived around the corner from the house Schapelle shared with her brother Michael, and the couple were often seen at the beach or at bars in Kuta.

The pair fell for each other quickly.


Will they start a family?

And although Ben appears very fleetingly on Schapelle’s Instagram page since November, she recently told Woman’s Day that they have plans to start a family together.

“We are hoping to become pregnant on this trip together. I’m 42 this year and Ben is 38,” Schapelle said in 2019 while away with her beau.

The pair want to start a family.


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