Father fears British tourist stripper will have ‘book thrown at her’ (VIDEO)
KOTA KINABALU, June 11 — The father of the British girl accused of stripping on Mount Kinabalu fears that natives angry over last week’s deadly earthquake may make an example of her and her companions for their “stupid prank”.
Tim Hawkins, 58, the father of Eleanor, 24, sought to downplay the incident last month in which 10 tourists posed in the nude atop the mountain sacred to natives, and said authorities looking for someone to blame for the ensuing earthquake may target four of the group members who have been arrested.
“I’m not dismissing it (the stripping) as completely trivial. It was obviously insensitive but they were 4,000 feet up a mountain with no-one else around. It’s just something most of us have done in a mad drunken moment, and have got away with.
“But then there has been this tragic earthquake. It’s just a dreadful and really unfortunate coincidence. It seems to me they just want to blame somebody, and it might be these four,” Hawkins told British daily The Sun from his home in Derby.
Hawkins, who owns his own engineering business, said his daughter was guilty only of a “stupid prank” and hoped the Malaysian authorities would treat it as such.
Eleanor is one of four foreign tourists remanded for allegedly stripping on Sabah’s revered Mount Kinabalu, a Unesco World Heritage Site. The others are Canadian siblings Lindsey,23 and Danielle Peterson, 22, and Dutch national Dylan Snel, 23.
Their remand ends on June 13 while waiting for investigations to be completed.
He said that the prank had been blown out of proportion and hoped that Malaysian authorities will treat it as that rather than relating to the earthquake that claimed 18 lives.
“She’s obviously very upset. She hasn’t got a bad bone in her body, she’s a good young woman and we have to appeal to the better nature of the Malaysian authorities, and hope they don’t take the hysteria around the earthquake into account,” he added.
Hawkins said that he and his wife Ruth spoke to their daughter yesterday morning, when she was brought to court to be remanded.
“She was upset but said conditions weren’t too bad, because she is with the Canadian girl. They’ve been kept separate from the other prisoners, for their own protection. She hasn’t got anything apart from her shoes, while she is in a jumpsuit and handcuffs.
“We’re hoping she will make a public apology and get a fine, and maybe be told to do some kind of relief work. But I have a dreadful feeling they will throw the book at her. She’s going to plead guilty and then it is up to her lawyer agreeing a plea bargain,” he said.
Hawkins and his wife had last seen Eleanor, or “Ellie” as they call her, a few weeks ago in Malaysia when they came out to visit.
He also expressed disbelief over reports that their daughter and her companions had urinated on the mountain and insulted the mountain guide who had sought to dissuade them from their act, saying the claim was out of her nature.
The group allegedly called their guide “stupid” and told him to “go to hell” when he warned them during the May 30 incident.
“Eleanor isn’t that kind of girl. Eleanor would be mortified if she has offended anyone. She is a lovely, lovely young woman, caring, happy, friendly and confident. But she’s scared, and we’ll just have to see what happens.” he said.
Eleanor is said to have been travelling in Asia since January, around Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Malaysia since completing her degree.
Purportedly a head girl who earned “top grades” at her Ockbrook senior school, Eleanor’s Facebook was last updated on May 9, when she was thought to be in Langkawi.
“I quite like Malaysia. It has proper palm trees and decent sunsets,” she wrote in the post.
The four are being investigated under Section 294(a) of the Penal code for public indecency, an offence that is punishable by a maximum three months’ jail term or fine or both.
Malaysian authorities should not embarrass us by claiming that the earthquake was caused by the naked incident like J. Kittingan suggested - coming from an educated person this is sickening (best for him to resign his post or retire!).