IN HAPPIER TIMES: Chris Munce (front) holding son Connor, with brother Danny (left), mother Gale and father Jim at the Ballina
IN HAPPIER TIMES: Chris Munce (front) holding son Connor, with brother Danny (left), mother Gale and father Jim at the Ballina

MUNCE BACK HOME

By STEVE SPINKS

"ABSOLUTELY fantastic."

With these words Casino's Gale Munce described her joy that son Chris is back in Australia after he was secretly transferred from a Hong Kong jail to Sydney on Monday night.

Munce, the champion jockey who was sentenced to 30 months jail in Hong Kong last March after the money-for-tips scandal, was sent back to Australia as part of a prisoner exchange arriving yesterday morning at 8am.

"We found out a fortnight ago that there was a possibility of it happening but we have been left disappointed before so we adopted a wait-and-see attitude," Mrs Munce said.

"It was wonderful news to hear this morning."

Munce's incarceration has placed great strain on his family.

Gale, her husband Jim and Chris's brothers had all travelled to Hong Kong to see the 37-year-old hoop, while Munce's wife and three children have been battling financially and emotionally.

"We're a pretty close-knit family," Mrs Munce said.

"Whatever happens to one of our family happens to all of us.

"It's been horrific but the other side is that we've had a lot of family support.

"He was also treated really well in Hong Kong."

Munce will still have to serve the rest of his sentence.

The jockey will spend the next month at the Silverwater Correctional Centre while negotiations continue to see him moved to the John Moroney Correctional Facility, which is a minimum security prison, at Windsor.

"To be quite honest we're just so happy that he's back home and closer to his family," Mrs Munce said.

"It doesn't matter where he goes because it's not a big problem to drive to see him and more importantly his children can get to see him a lot more."

Mrs Munce said the family has been overwhelmed by the support of the racing industry and friends both in Sydney and the Northern Rivers.

"The support has been so good," she said.

"Everyone has really rallied around us and I can't speak highly enough of our friends and family.

"People we don't even know have even been trying to help. I also have to mention our local member Ian Causley who has been a wonderful support. He and his staff have helped us as much as they could."

The prisoner swap has been organised with the help of NSW Justice Minister John Hatzistergos and the Munce family had to raise an estimated $10,000 to pay for the transfer.

In Australia, Munce's actions would have not been brought before the courts. Racing authorities would have dealt with the matter.

The Melbourne Cup-winning jockey was arrested last July a day before he was due to fly home from Hong Kong.



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