Jodie stands by jailed friend
By MEGAN KINNINMENT
BYRON Bay woman Jodie Power-Ripley is paying daily visits to a Bali jail where her childhood friend faces a death penalty threat over drug trafficking.
Jodie and Gold Coast sisters, Schapelle and Mercedes Corby, have celebrated every major milestone of their lives together: first loves, weddings, births and christenings.
Now they are sharing the fight of Schapelle's life as she struggles to escape the death penalty over charges she tried to take $30,000 worth of high-grade marijuana through Bali's Denpasar airport - charges they insist she is innocent of.
Last October, Schapelle and Jodie planned to meet at Bali airport for yet another family gathering, Mercedes' birthday party, but on arrival it all went horribly wrong.
Schapelle now faces the death penalty after being accused of smuggling 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali in her boogie-board case.
But Jodie Power-Ripley is sticking by her mate.
For the past four months, Jodie has put her and her two and eight-year-old children's lives on hold as she supports the Corbys through their Bali nightmare.
Schapelle, a 27-year-old beauty school student, had her first court appearance last Thursday after four months in a squalid Balinese jail, sustained only by daily visits from Jodie and Mercedes.
While Jodie devotes herself to her friend's plight, her mother, Margaret Campbell, has left her Gympie farm to take over Jodie's business, the Byron Springs Guesthouse.
"Jodie is the most loyal friend, she won't give up," Ms Campbell said.
"Jodie has known the Corbys since she was a teenager, when she boarded with them for three years during high school. They're like a second family to her."
The Corbys insist Schapelle is innocent, claiming the drugs were planted in transit as Schapelle travelled between Brisbane, Sydney and Bali airports. Their defence is strengthened by the fact the drugs were not picked up by Australian customs.
However, Schapelle's fate rests on the testimony of a Balinese customs official, who says she told him the drugs were hers.
Jodie has no doubts her friend is innocent, telling national media: "Ever since I have known her, and I swear on my children's lives, I have never seen her smoke marijuana, she doesn't like the stuff.
"It is ridiculous to link Schapelle with expensive drug-running. She worked triple hours at her brother's shop to get her to Bali. She worked so hard to be able to afford to come over for her sister's birthday."
When Schapelle faces the Indonesian court again later this week, Jodie will be in the courthouse with her.
Donations to the Help Free Schapelle (HFS Inc) fund can be sent to PO Box 2097, Bondi Junction, NSW, 2022.