Entertainment

Man goes from holiday, to Bali prison, to Hervey Bay

Paul Conibeer with his book on the time he spent in Bali's Kerobokan Prison.
Paul Conibeer with his book on the time he spent in Bali's Kerobokan Prison. Alistair Brightman

HE SPENT months inside Bali's notorious Kerobokan prison, but the former inmate, who lived alongside some of Australia's most famous international criminals, is now rebuilding his life in Hervey Bay.

During his ordeal Paul Conibeer saw people stabbed to death, others die of drug overdoses and a community with rampant mental health issues.

The 45-year-old was thrown into jail in August 2012 after losing his wallet and mobile phone while on holiday and not being able to pay his hotel bill at check-out.

After being escorted to the Kuta police station by hotel staff, Mr Conibeer said he was handcuffed and taken into custody where he refused to comply with mounting bribery requests after prices continued to rise.

"I didn't believe the money would go to the hotel at the end of the day," he said

"Once they had me in prison, all they could see were dollar signs."

With his hotel debt still unpaid and no help from his Australian homeland or native New Zealand, a judge ruled Mr Conibeer be jailed for eight months.

"I felt abandoned by both consulates," Mr Conibeer, who was born in New Zealand but lived in Australia since he was a baby, said.

"I felt disowned."

Mr Conibeer describes Kerobokan as a filthy, disease ridden hell-hole where he was exposed to rotten food, filthy water, insects and vermin.

"The hard part was no access to good food," he said.

"There was no protein ... everything was rice."

Mr Conibeer said one of his best days in prison was when he managed to order pizza.

"Without the guards you couldn't get that stuff," he said.

Mr Conibeer said money sent from his family helped pay prison officers for outside food and saved him from the daily servings of inedible bread, fruit and the occasional egg.

"I couldn't eat it, as hungry as I was," he said.

Mr Conibeer said although there are far worse prisons than Kerobokan, the conditions made it a struggle to avoid illness.

"I got sick all the time," he said.

"There was no access to outside medication.

While living there he met Schapelle Corby and befriended members of the Bali nine, including now close mate Andrew Chan who is awaiting execution by firing squad.

Mr Conibeer said Ms Corby looked lost when he saw her.

"Just like an empty vessel walking around … it was very sad," he said.

Mr Conibeer said Mr Chan leads the prisons Catholic Church.

"He goes out of his way to help people," he said.

Mr Conibeer said a positive attitude helped him get through the ordeal.

"It wasn't the end of the world for me, I had a release date and I knew I was going to get out," he said.

Mr Conibeer said the Western prisoners were kept together, in a cell made for 30 but housing 55.

"I constantly sweated non-stop for 10 months," he said.

Mr Conibeer said the guards were generally respectful towards him but things like turning the electricity off, which shut down the fans, amounted to mental torture in unbearable heat.

"I slept lightly," Mr Conibeer said, who now warns tourists to be careful in the country.

"Just be safe over there."

I Survived Kerobokan by Paul Conibeer is available from all major bookstores.

Topics:  bali, hervey bay, holiday, prison




The biggest drug bust 'in living memory': police

A multi-million dollar drug bust sets the record

Who would steal a seven-year-old's motorbike?

Generic police sign  
Photo Contributed

The bike is green and the back guard of the bike is broken.

Ranger visited kangaroo mob day before toddler got attacked

Kangaroos in a paddock on Dougan St, Point Vernon.

"This mob has never shown any problems or signs of aggression."

Latest deals and offers

Britney Spears 'almost drowned' in Hawaii

Britney Spears has revealed she 'almost drowned' while on holiday

Doco reveals real story behind Black Hawk Down

Former Black Hawk pilot Mike Durant shares his story, which helped to inspire the movie Black Hawk Down, in the TV series No Man Left Behind.

FORMER pilot recounts ordeal which inspired a Hollywood movie.

What's on the big screen this week

Toby Kebbell and Jack Huston in a scene from the movie Ben-Hur.

AN OLD classic returns to the big screen with a new young star.

Bachelor Richie gives bacon-loving Noni the boot

Noni Janur features on this season of The Bachelor.

TOOWOOMBA swimwear designer still single but focusing on her career.

Zumbo's Just Desserts serves up magical dishes

Gigi Falanga, left, joins hosts Adriano Zumbo and Rachel Khoo on the TV series Zumbo's Just Desserts.

ADRIANO Zumbo’s decadent creations have become prime-time viewing.

Sir Cliff Richard feels 'best' after sex abuse allegations

Sir Cliff Richard is 'back' to his best after sex abuse claims

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Coast building approvals at seven-year high: report

The the 2015/16 Development Indicators Annual Highlights Report documents local development activity that took place during the last financial year.

New report shows increasing development on the Sunshine Coast

Top honours for Mackay and Whitsunday builders

The Kerrisdale Gardens property from Paynter Dixon Queensland which won them Project of the Year.

Mackay and Whitsunday builders awarded top honours last night.