Australian love-scam victim Yoshe Ann Taylor's appeal rejected by Cambodian court as conman lashes out
Phnom Penh: A Cambodian court has rejected an appeal by an Australian victim of an internet dating scam against her 23-year jail sentence on heroin smuggling charges.
The decision will shatter the hopes of Yoshe Ann Taylor’s early release from one of Cambodia’s notorious jails after her conviction three years ago on charges which lawyers and others involved in the case are convinced was a miscarriage of justice.
Taylor, a mother of two from Queensland, wasn’t brought to the court to hear the decision on Tuesday because of a mix-up with the transfer from jail.
But Precious Chineme Nwoko, a 27-year-old Nigerian-born convicted conman and drug trafficker, became enraged when he was questioned about dating scams by journalists.
“Are you stupid? Get out of here. You think you can come here and ask questions while I am jail,” he shouted at Luke McMahon, a Melbourne writer who has revealed Taylor’s plight in an exclusive story for Fairfax Media.
Nwoko, who is known as Precious Max, was posing as a successful South African businessman in Phnom Penh when he befriended Taylor on the internet. She became romantically involved with him after he had paid for her airfare to Cambodia.
On September 18, 2013, Nwoko asked Taylor, who was due to fly back to Australia, to take a backpack full of samples for an arts and crafts business in which he claimed to have an involvement.
She hadn’t made it to the check-in counter when police swooped and found about two kilograms of heroin in the backpack.
Nwoko was arrested soon after.
Police are investigating a growing number of internet scams targeting Australians in south-east Asian countries, including Cambodia, where Nwoko is believed to be still operating scams, from his jail cell, targeting Australian women. He received a 27-year-jail sentence for drug trafficking.
Fairfax Media has revealed he still has active profiles online. Nwoko’s appeal also was refused on Tuesday.
“This is not justice,” Taylor’s lawyer Khiev Van said of Taylor’s case after judge Pol Sam Oeun announced the decision in a brief hearing, citing evidence presented to an earlier court by police.
Taylor has one month to decide whether to make a final appeal to Cambodia’s Supreme Court.
No Australian Embassy officials or Australian Federal Police were at the court.
Cambodian police have said that the AFP provided information to Cambodian police that led to Taylor being arrested in 2013.
Mr Khiev Van said outside the court that Australian police used Taylor “as fishing bait” to catch Nwoko’s syndicate.
Taylor has told Fairfax Media she does not blame Cambodia’s legal system for her harsh sentence but says she is furious at Australian authorities who she feels have abandoned her.
“There are just so many people who have been tricked. I am not the only one,” she said.
Asked last month if she had a message for her young son and daughter in Queensland, she broke down and cried.
“I love you. I miss you,” she said.