Two Sydney women are suing police after they erroneously spent five months in prison on suspicion of importaing drugs. Melanie Lim and Connie Chong, who are mother and daughter, import ginger tea for a business in Australia and had ordered a case of the legal brew from China. Unfortunately, the Australian Border Force became suspicious and raided their Greenacre home before charging them with commercial drug supply, 9News reports.
They were arrested and refused bail. When they were arrested in January, they applied to be released on bail but were refused despite the fact that they had no criminal records and did not pose a flight risk. The rationale for this was that if they were eventually found guilty, they could face up to life in prison.
They were put in prison before the tea was even tested. Officers put the women behind bars believing that the tea would prove to be illegal drugs since a preliminary test gave a positive result. However, they didn’t send it off for a formal test until April, and the results didn’t come back until July, proving there was no trace of drugs whatsoever.
Both women had served five months behind bars at that point. By the time their names were cleared and charges were dropped, Lim and Chong had already been in prison for five months. How could something like this happen and who agreed to put them in prison without concrete evidence?
Now they’re suing for damages. The women’s attorney, Stephen Boland, calls what happened to his clients “one of the most extraordinary cases of injustice” he’s ever seen. Prosecutors have denied requests to pay the women’s court costs and the case will continue in court next year.
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