crime

Nick Baker sent back to Britain to finish jail sentence

88 Comments
By Emma Tilley

After six years in solitary confinement, Nick Baker has finally won his battle to be transferred to a British jail. The 36-year-old was convicted in 2003 of trying to smuggle £1.4 million of cocaine and ecstasy through Japan's Narita Airport and jailed for 14 years.

Ever since, he and mum, Iris Baker, have been battling to both overturn the conviction, or at the very least, have him transferred to a UK prison to serve his sentence.

Now finally, the harsh Japanese prison regime is behind him as he has returned to the UK following an agreement with the Japanese embassy and will serve the remainder of his sentence, now reduced to 11 years, in Wandsworth prison.

His weight has dropped from 15 stone to under nine stone and he has lost all of his muscle, along with several toenails after suffering frostbite every year.

Iris, of St Michael's Road, Cirencester, is delighted her son is back in the UK after years of campaigning for his human rights.

Describing Japanese prison conditions as barbaric, she said it was only since he returned to the UK that she had been able to talk to him about his horrifying ordeal.

"The Japanese justice system is corrupt and barbaric," she said. "Of course people have to be punished but Nick spent most of the six years in solitary confinement. He is less than half the person he was."

While in prison, Baker was only allowed to speak for 10 minutes a day and was separated from other English-speaking prisoners.

"I have been through a lot but he has lost everything," she added. "For whatever he has done, he has paid the ultimate price."

He told his mother he saw big, strong men crumble under the harsh prison system.

The last six years have been hard for both Baker, a former choir boy at Cirencester Parish Church, and his mum but out of the nightmare, they have both gained huge support from local residents.

When he left the Japanese prison, Baker was handed over 200 letters which the prison guards had kept from him.

Iris said: "Nick is worried when he comes back that he will be singled out but he has so many people who have supported him. Without their support, I would never have got through this and neither would Nick."

Baker has always protested his innocence and claimed he was set up by traveling companion James Prunier, who later committed suicide while being investigated for similar charges in Belgium.

Iris, who helps at a Stroud workshop for troubled teenagers, said: "Hopefully youngsters will read about this and be more aware. Nick ruined his life because of a moment of stupidity.

"This could happen to anybody. Mainly it is youngsters who do it because they are gullible."

© Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

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88 Comments
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Nick deserved what he got. I spent time in Fuchu for marijuana trafficking as well, although not nearly as much as Nick. I think he exaggerates the conditions a bit. I never got frostbite and I was not mistreated by the guards or other prisoners. To say he was in solitary confinement is not completely accurate. I had a cell to myself and was only allowed to speak to other inmates occasionally, but I was fed well, allowed exercise, and plenty of books and time to write letters. I think I would rather be in prison in Japan than the UK as the UK is violent and has issues with their penal system. It would be ironic if Nick is hurt or killed in prison in the UK where he was completely safe in Japan. Not wishing him any harm. Just saying it would be ironic.

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James prunier is not a coward, nor is he to be blamed for any of this story, what all of you people seem to be forgetting is he had a family, and I am part of that family, he would never wish pain on anything, he had the best heart, when he came home from prison, I was seven, but I remember seeing him, and he was not lying, he didn't kill himself to escape what 'he'd done' he killed himself because he was driven into depression by media and filthy alligations by the liar that is nick baker. Stop making mindless comments when you knew neither of the people involved, nick baker ruined my uncles life, along with me and my whole family because of his stupidity and lies. He deserves everything he got in japan.

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It seems that some of the posters here are not aware of the controversy regarding Baker's case, which was a major topic of discussion on Japan Today's forum and was highlighted in several articles and commentaries in Metropolis magazine.

While it is better that Baker is now closer to his family, sympathy for his situation, much of which was manufactured by Baker's supporters, should not cloud the actual facts of the case.

The major problem with Baker's story was that his claim to have come to Japan on the "trip of a lifetime" was invalidated by new information that showed that he had already been to Japan, just two months before his arrest. This led to further revalations, including documents released by Baker's own defense which showed, amongst other things, that he was threatened by members of the Israeli Mafia before he got on the plane.

Baker's own MP also disavowed him stating that the facts of the case did not match the impression given by the support group.

You can read more about the actual details of the case at http://www.markdevlin.com/NickBaker/thenickbakerdeception.htm

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Too bad, I tried to post a connection to Narita officials planting narcotic, and it got deleted. Then JT published it itself - well later. Good job!

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If he was caught in the US with that much cocaine under federal law he would have gotten automatic life in prison. No freedom ater 14 or 11 years. I'm surprised his sentence is so light!

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yes

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Great. More of "friend of mine..." rhetoric.

You have never lived in Japan, and you have no Japan experience.

Seriously, Patrick. Seriously.

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Nigelboy

'Why the 23-day without charge rule?' Why not? Why not allow the prosecution to build the case for these criminals?

Criminals? You seem to be assume that all people arrested and held are automatically guilty. That just isn't the case. Otherwise the arrest rate (those detained) would be hovering around the 99% conviction rate.

Furthermore, Patrick's anecdote hardly seems like BS to me. One of the reasons I feel so strongly about this topic is that a similar fate befell a friend of mine as well. He also lost his job after being released. Try even getting a day or two off from your company if it's not a scheduled holiday without getting into your bosses bad books. What was even worse was that he was locked up for a week before he could even get word out that he had been arrested since he was alone when he was picked up. So, his friends, family, company, no one knew where he was.

I don't think this is a rampant problem in the Japanese legal system. The fact that any of these stories exist bothers me. I also see a lot of potential for abuse in a system with very little over-sight.

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Oh please Patrick Smash. Please spare me with your "mate" stories for it only weakens your argument in my book. It's a sign of desparation.

Only 32% of the accused (not include traffic related incidents) are arrested and detained. Robbery/theft 79.1%, rape 75.8%, and murder 64%. In other words, those who are detained are accused of pretty heavy stuff. Close to a million cases of penal code offenses, there simply isn't enough room/luxury of time to bother with your "mate"'s case. So I'm calling your BS.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Look no further than Japan my friend. In the past month a Swedish woman and a British man were both found innocent after being caught with suitcases full of amphetamines and marijuana.

Yep. I'm loving the trend already. sigh.

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nigelboy, with all the evidence staring you in the face, how can you really say that forced confessions are rare? You have no evidence of that whatsoever, that's just a belief you have decided to hold.

So far, you have not shown any evidence that "forced confessions" are rampant among the Japan's judicial system. Of the several hundred thousands criminal cases per year, how many were "forced" to confess someting that these alleged criminals did not do?

Why won't they record anything then? No tape players in Japan? Shortage of Olympus IC recorders?

I'm all for taping interrogations if it means legitimizing these confessions. I certainly do not want a criminal using the "forced confession" card when the case gets desparate for them like a certain known celebrity who used the "race card".

Why the 23-day without charge rule?

Why not? Why not allow the prosecution to build the case for these criminals?

Why the allowance of mild torture?

What specific article in the criminal procedure code allows mild torture?

Why no acceptance of new evidence? Why the continued blocking of retrials, even when police have admitted to fabrication, or new important evidence exists?

Didn't Thundercat give you an example where acceptance of new evidence and retrial happened? The man was freed because of a CONFESSION from another. The big bad C-word is at play here.

There is an automatic conviction based on a forced confession taken under 23 days of duress in a holding system. Many just confess to avoid court and pay big fines and compensation because they know they will be found guilty even if they're not.

Wait a second. Are you stating that people confess because they seek an automatic conviction??

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DXXJP

so tell me in what country you would be found inocent with a suitcase full of drugs

Look no further than Japan my friend. In the past month a Swedish woman and a British man were both found innocent after being caught with suitcases full of amphetamines and marijuana.

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I was talking to a co-worker of mine who was stationed Japan in the 90s. A US serviceman he was acquainted briefly was serving time in Japanese prison. A couple years in to his sentence he was discharged to US custody when he suffered organ failure from malnutrition. The general thought is foreigners in Japanese prison do slightly better than WWII POWs. Which isn't saying much.

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so tell me in what country you would be found inocent with a suitcase full of drugs. Confession or not it was in his case and for as long as I can remember the airlines have been asking if you packed your bags. So is it becouse he's a expat some of you feel compeled to belive his story. I know in the states whether he packed it or not he still would have been sent to prison.

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ALHQQ - either your computer is not refreshing or somenthing else is amiss - the mistake was corrected close to 10 hours before you posted.

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1.4 million pounds of cocaine

In a suitcase? Is this a typo or did Baker charter a 747?

Monetary value folks read teh first paragraph

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Japan sends a serious message to major drug smugglers, and their accomplices.

Right, by railroading Mr. Baker, Japan has stopped the flow of drugs coming into the country... ;p

Whatever...

If anything, I think that Japanese officials really dropped the ball on this one. There have been three recent cases of foreign nationals being caught smuggling drugs into Japan who have been released with no charges. Why? Might have something to do with the negative press the Japanese legal system got for having completely screwed Baker.

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Thank you for correcting the error in the text.

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"prison is suposed to be tough this isnt the US. What did he expect."

Uh, since Mr Baker is a Brit, I seriously doubt he expected the US prison experience awaited him if incarcerated in Japan.

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prison is suposed to be tough this isnt the US. What did he expect. Funny the Japanese don't have a problem with it. But rest asured, mummy will come make it better, I wonder how many other Japanese prisoners have been able to relocate their incarceration.

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"Also, I know Nick's mum personally...and not only did she lose her son for seven years due to this stupid system here in Japan, but she also lost her husband who died of a heart attack during all this. Have some compassion."

Don't mean to sound heartless but it seems to me that Nick's mum lost her son for 7 years due to said son'e stupidity. Without that, nothing else would have followed.

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What's the deal with Japanese prisons? They are supposed to be a first world country.

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Hey Patrick,

As a German American who spent years in Japan I can say that the Japanese system has a certain appeal for some societies. The idea of "alles in ordernung" works very well in Japan and the people who can cope with a regimented society and don't anticipate ever having problems will be very comfortable in Japan. I've worked with Japanese living in the US and they think it is very chaotic and confusing. In Japan and Germany you know what is expected of you and if you conform you will have a good life - until Murphy's law intervenes. But fot the average person that is enough. But if you step out of line like Nick here then there is hell to pay. There are trade offs. It can seem very stifling for somebody raised in a different society. But there you are.

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1.4 million pounds of cocaine ? That's 625 tons !! "he has lost all of his muscle" - he only had one muscle to begin with ?

How did this person ever get a job writing ??

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modeditors,

1.4 million pounds of cocaine and 1.4 million pounds ($2.8 million) WORTH of cocaine are two very, very, very, very different animals.

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1.4 million pounds of cocaine

In a suitcase? Is this a typo or did Baker charter a 747?

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Complaints about Japanese criminal justice, which actually works to protect their people, will continue to be slandered by the "civilized" West. I'm from the UK but i totally agree with that comment. At the end of the day our law system is way too soft by any means and it can be clearly seen every day, week in and week out. Nick Baker is probably laughing now on his way back over to the UK. Where he can relax in jail, daily shafting, play pool and probably study a trade before he gets out...on an early release.

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did I read that right? 1.5 million pounds of coke? Is that monetary value or weight? No matter, this guy should have offed himself guilty or not. He'll be 51 when he gets out so his whole life is gone anyway.

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So what is the advice if you actually get arrested? Don't sign anything and don't say a word till a lawyer is present? If non-payment of the NHK fee ever becomes a crime, this knowledge could come in handy.

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Man, this excuse offered by the guilty party is pathetic. He is guilty for sure but thats no reason to treat him so badly. Frostbite? shocking. You expect frostbite from the gulag, not a first world democracy.

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I think the real message here is "choose your traveling companions wisely". I'm not sure how someone sets you up to take the fall for moving 1.4 MILLION POUNDS of cocaine and ecstasy, but it seems like that would be hard not to notice. That's what the article says: not 1.4 million pounds' WORTH, but 1.4 MILLION POUNDS. I.e. 635 metric TONNES. I'm thinking that's got to be a typo...

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Japan sends a serious message to major drug smugglers, and their accomplices. I've got no sympathy for death merchants or financing murderous gangs.

In the West, our governments love to protect rights of criminals and the media loves to ignore the plight of victims. So of course, in the US no city of any size has not had innocent blood poured out on the streets and even children in their homes have been shot via "drive-by shootings." Henious acts due to drugs are normal in the "civilized West" who know how to "protect the rights of crimals."

Complaints about Japanese criminal justice, which actually works to protect their people, will continue to be slandered by the "civilized" West.

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romulus3

Sorry, but thumping anyone should get you arrested. Endangering your life by not eating, drinking water, or sleeping for three days (whether these were withheld, or it was self imposed) is not a solution I would opt for.

Simply put, the arrestee should have been able to call wife, lawyer, or anyone else within hours of being arrested.

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Thundercat. Sorry. I thought that you were mentioning the recent Kagoshima case involving the vote fixing charges.

The reality is that "forced confessions" are rare and that almost all criminal cases do not base their convictions on them alone. Hence, this is the reason why it's "news". And therefore, I'm merely pointing out the knee jerk reaction among the crowd here who use such rare cases as though this is a common practice among Japanese judicial system.

If I were to cite, OJ Simpson case, can I conclude that U.S. system lets killers go free because he's a celebrity? Certainly not. Bottom line. Japan doesn't have a perfect system but in no way shape or form should another system from another country should be viewed as superior. That's just simply arrogant.

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"His weight has dropped from 15 stone to under nine stone and he has lost all of his muscle, along with several toenails after suffering frostbite every year."

Worse than Gitmo?

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Hence your Yanagihara example was left with circumstantial evidence which the higher court found to be not enough for conviction.

Sorry, wrong again. Yanagihara was convicted and sent to prison for three years. He had served 2 of 3 years when the actual rapist confessed to the crime and he was subsequently released.

I understand that you never said confession obtained under duress was OK. I was simply pointing out that the gap between the constitution and reality is huge. You want to randomly quote the constitution and pay no attention to the reality of what transpires in criminal courts, no problem, feel free to make bogus claims. When you make arrogant statements like "Boy do I love the JT crowd who base their information on lame English based articles and blogs from a certain activist in Hokkaido who caters to J-illiterate expats." I want to call you out on it. Article 319 has long been ignored in Japanese courts but with the introduction of lay jurors I think we will see an end to that.

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Thundercat.

I never said confession obtained under duress was OK. Where do you get this from? I simply stated that confession alone cannot be used as sole evidence for conviction as per article 319. I also stated that confession obtained under duress is not admittable as evidence. Hence your Yanagihara example was left with circumstantial evidence which the higher court found to be not enough for conviction.

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No Patrick Smash. Prosecution % I'm referring to are the # of people actually going through the criminal trial divided by the # of people arrested. Hence, if you look at the total aspect of criminal procedure, a large % of those who are accused are released. So to satisfy your urge to decrease the 99.7% conviction rate, all Japan needs to do is to increase the # of criminal trial. In order to do that, Japan needs to hire more prosecutors (1,200 in Japan, 32,000 in U.S.)

In the U.S., does the accused initial pleading of "not guilty" have a bearing on the sentencing when that person eventually is convicted?

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Did a different Nigelboy write this?

Confession under compulsion, torture, threat, after unduly prolonged detention or when there is doubt about it being voluntary may not be admitted as evidence.

I pointed you towards a very clear case where a confession was obtained under complusion and you still think you are correct? There is quite a gap between constitutional provisions for suspected criminals and the reality of their treatment.

Take Article 34 for example: No person shall be arrested or detained without being at once informed of the charges against him or without the immediate privilege of counsel; nor shall he be detained without adequate cause; and upon demand of any person such cause must be immediately shown in open court in his presence and in the presence of counsel.

23 days of endless interrogation with no lawyer present...

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Nigleboy.. Article 319

Confession under compulsion (defined as obtained after the loss of a body part, anything less is not compulsion), torture (ditto), threat (ditto), after unduly prolonged detention (defined as more than a year) or when there is doubt about it being voluntary (as when no thumbprint is attached) may not be admitted as evidence. (2) The accused shall not be convicted when the confession, whether it was made in open court or not, is the only piece of incriminating evidence (but it is OK for the Police to fabricate evidence if not otherwise obtained).

Seriously… Japan’s justice is similar to military justice.. You know the saying, as a March is to Music

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It's ok to admit when you are wrong. Just look up Yanagihara Hiroshi and tell me what other evidence was presented at his trail. Circumstantial evidence plus a confession = guilt, it doesn't matter how the confession was obtained. Fortunately, that is changing in Japan.

Yes. Circumstantial evidence coupled with a confession. I don't think I'm wrong here.

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Patrick Smash

It appears that you cannot comprehend the "lower prosecution rate coupled with low # of prosecuters per capita" argument. Would it be better for the society to have lower % of conviction rate while still maintaining the lower prosecution rate?? What's a "reasonable" conviction rate for you? 50%?? 60%?? If so, the solution is merely increasing the % of prosecution. Good idea. Instead of releasing the accused because of insufficient evidence, let's take it court because there is a 50/50 chance of conviction.

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Nigelboy,

It's ok to admit when you are wrong. Just look up Yanagihara Hiroshi and tell me what other evidence was presented at his trail. Circumstantial evidence plus a confession = guilt, it doesn't matter how the confession was obtained. Fortunately, that is changing in Japan.

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Under article 319 section 2 of the criminal procedure, a person cannot be convicted of a crime based solely on confession alone. (forced or unforced)

So heresay and police testimony are needed, too? Same difference.

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Are you honestly saying that there has never been a conviction in Japan based solely on confession? I've read countless stories that profess quite the opposite. Obviously there was other evidence in this case (ie. 1.4 million pounds worth of drugs) but more than a few innocents have been sent up the creek based solely on confessions, regardless of what the law seems to say.

You think the defense lawyers are that stupid??

The articles you read only highlight the "confessions" part as though it was the only evidence presented in the trial.

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Factually there is a conviction rate of over 99%.

On the flip side, Japan has much lower prosecution rate coupled with low # of prosecuters per capita. In other words, only the slam dunk cases ever go to trial.

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Nigelboy

Under article 319 section 2 of the criminal procedure, a person cannot be convicted of a crime based solely on confession alone. (forced or unforced)

Are you honestly saying that there has never been a conviction in Japan based solely on confession? I've read countless stories that profess quite the opposite. Obviously there was other evidence in this case (ie. 1.4 million pounds worth of drugs) but more than a few innocents have been sent up the creek based solely on confessions, regardless of what the law seems to say.

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even the Japanese legal profession knows that whats written is not enforced.

Article 319

Confession under compulsion, torture, threat, after unduly prolonged detention or when there is doubt about it being voluntary may not be admitted as evidence.

(2) The accused shall not be convicted when the confession, whether it was made in open court or not, is the only piece of incriminating evidence.

Boy do I love the JT crowd who base their information on lame English based articles and blogs from a certain activist in Hokkaido who caters to J-illiterate expats.

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haha I hope thats not an American commenting on the obesity of Brits.

"article blahblah ...confession alone..." even the Japanese legal profession knows that whats written is not enforced.

Even if hes guilty, we dont believe in treating animals that badly, what make sit ok to do so to Humans? All the lynch mob folks out there should have someone they know make a bad call, and then try and feel no compassion when they are treated worse than we treat dogs. Starvation, frostbite, and years on end of solitary = torture.

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"His weight has dropped from 15 stone to under nine stone and he has lost all of his muscle, along with several toenails after suffering frostbite every year."

This is what we should be hearing about prison inmates. The Japanese system gets the idea that prisoners are there to serve their punishment for a wrong-doing. Just having the knowledge of what happens to prisoners, a Japanese citizen might think twice about doing something illegal. Our (the UK) prison system is very... corrupt is the best word I can think of, because the prisoners are treated so much better than our elderly community.

Prisoners are actually getting internet access, limited albeit, but they're still getting it. So, getting to the point;

Good job, no wonder Japan has such a low crime rate. People might actually be scared of joing to jail.

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with the beer gut of some of those Brits I would imagine he would have tried to smuggle the 1.4 million pounds of cocaine and ecstasy as a drug mule.

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"he and mum"

Awww, isn't that sweet

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Patrick Smash, please get your facts right before posting your comments. Get this.....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_John_Baker

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You got proof of the things you are saying?

He doesn't. He probably go his 411 from some activist blog residing in Hokkaido.

Under article 319 section 2 of the criminal procedure, a person cannot be convicted of a crime based solely on confession alone. (forced or unforced)

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Patrick.

You got proof of the things you are saying?

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Youdontknow,

You're not a judge either. You have no place to say he is innocent. A court found him guilty. Do you know what drugs do to people's lives? We are safer with him behind bars.

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Nor do courts deal in legal terms such as "fishy."

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Legally no-one cares if he carried or if he was setup.

He was caught with the stash, rest are excuses in legal terms. Courts don't know if he got stuck with the stash or if he carried it himself. All they know is he got caught with it. Who put it into the case don't matter.

Said that his story about his trip was also fishy to start with.

Courts and legal systems deal with facts not hear-say stories.

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How do you even carry 1.4 million pounds of anything?

Lift with your legs and not your back.

Taka

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Gavin is absolutely right. Baker may or may not be innocent but his story that he was visiting Japan for a pre-world cup tour of stadiums is the least convincing thing I've ever heard. When he said that I automatically assumed that he was lying.

The court was presumably asked to believe that a 30-ish father of limited financial means (I believe he's a gardener of some kind) took a holiday, without his family, to a far-flung and notoriously expensive destination, with the purpose of buying souvenirs for a tournament that he wasn't even planning to attend??? I've never in my life met anyone who's ever done such a thing and I'm a football daft Brit of the same age as Baker who has attended the last 6 World Cups and European Championships. In fact, I've never met a 30 year old British father who has visited Japan full-stop, unless they already know people here. This just doesn't happen. Drugs or not, in my opinion he was almost certainly lying through his teeth about his reason for visiting Japan, which makes me doubt his whole story.

His own mum even stops short of saying that he's innocent - “Of course people have to be punished....." “For whatever he has done, he has paid the ultimate price.”

Regarding the prison conditions, 6 years in virtual solitary is inhumane, particularly for a non-violent criminal.

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trying to smuggle 1.4 million pounds of cocaine and ecstasy through Japan’s Narita Airport and jailed for 14 years.

note it DOESNT say pounds WORTH of cocaine so the correct interpretation based on htis poorly written article is thats the weight, & as dr jones points out about 635000kgs, yr average 747freighter carries around 90tons depending on winds, ground temps etc so wud require about 7 x 747freighters to fly this stuff

yeah yeah i know its about currency but thats not what was written.

what we shud all learn here is dont commit crimes in Jpn & if you do or think yr about to get wrongly accused for something bloody high tail it outta here otherwise you are totally screwed!!

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1.4 million pounds is a monetary value for the cocaine, not a weight, people. The Pound is the British currency, and a Stone is a unit measurement used in Britain (and other areas) weighing about 14 pounds. Knocking Baker and the story by display how clearly ignorant you can be over these minor details doesn't exactly win style points when debating the topic.

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hahahahahahaha, again

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1,4 million pounds? That are over 635000 kg or 700 tons! How did he transported all that? Used three transport jets or wouldn't it be easier to load it all on a freighter ship?!

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maybe the japanese prison are barbaric but this mom must know than if her dear criminal child did the same thing in thailand. he will be sentenced to death.

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I don't know much about this story but I agree with Tanaka; how do you sneak 1.4 million British pounds of drugs into someone's bag without the person knowing? I did an Internet seach and it says the value of cocaine in 2001 was US$12k to US$35k a kilo. 1.4 million British pounds is about US$2.1 million (at today's lowered exchange rate). Let's say the cocaine was high quality at US$35K a kilo, that would be 60 kilo of cocaine or 132 pounds. I think I would notice the difference even if the weight increase was only half that. Either Mr. Baker story is fishy or the value of the drugs provided is incorrect.

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Don't do the crime, I say.

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I hope he describes the Japaneses prison condition real bad. Make it worse than whatever he experienced. Write a book, make a movie, spread the news that you do not want to be in a Japanese jail. May be that way foreigners will think twice (or more) before bringing in drugs to Japan.

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We don't know many details as to have the full picture to make an opinion on this issue. This article was clearly written by and for Enlish people. Think that if a British national is correctly accused of a crime, that is not news, but if he might be innocent, that IS news. So there is a bias towards showing him as innocent. I am not a native English speaker and I really do not understand how much a "stone" weights (I use kilos, which is a far more simple way of measuring weight). Pounds or kilos should be used for everyone to understand...

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How do you even carry 1.4 million pounds of anything? Or is this the value in British pounds (and if so, why?)

hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

a former choir boy at Cirencester Parish Church,

helps at a Stroud workshop for troubled teenagers

the power of the media eh, selective reoprting makes everyone sound so niiiiice!

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I don't how many people remember the ‘details’ of this case. When I first heard about it I thought it had been a travesty of justice, as did this magazine, which at first came out in support of Baker. Then Baker claimed he was on a 'pre-World Cup tour of stadiums to buy souvenirs’. Then it emerged this was his second such tour and that his traveling companion/accomplice was known to him beforehand.

No doubt that there were some poor decisions made regarding evidence that was allowed to be submitted to the court and the presiding judge had never found anyone innocent. However, it appears unlikely Baker was entirely innocent. If you look closely at the language his mother used, you can assume she no longer thinks so either.

Nevertheless, six years of solitary does seem excessively brutal, particularly compared to the lighter sentences often given to those found guilty of violence and sexual violence towards women and children. Nobody should be suffering from frostbite or emaciation in prison and dehumanizing anybody, even prisoners, serves only to dehumanize the system, nation and people who support and carry it out.

As for the comments -

'because the UK system already proved his innocence.'

mmmmm.......where to start?

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ren doi: "mum" and his weight in "stone"... why is a Japan news source publishing a story in antiquated dialect?

English that's not 'American' English is antiquated? These terms are in use by around 100 million people across the globe.

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I don't think it's possible for a British court to prove someone's innocence

Don't be so bloody naive...of course they can! The Japanese courts refused evidence that proved his innocence. Even when the Belgian authorities insisted on providing further evidence to prove his innocence, the Japanese courts refused to accept it. They had made up their minds, especially in light of realising they had let the REAL drug dealer go already. So someone had to be punished. Nick had zero chance of proving his innocence. At the time of the hearings, everyone was aware of the prosecutor's utmost efforts to keep evidence OUT of the courtroom, because, as those of us who live here and are familiar with the court system know, prosecutors are like the Canadian Mounties - they ALWAYS get their man, even if he's innocent! They ensured they could get theirs, and they did.

And let's not forget, the Japanese guys that were a part of Prunier's deal were NEVER EVEN MENTIONED in court!

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If he's guilty or not, only the man himself knows for sure. I'm not advocating a soft line on drug smugglers, they deserve pretty much what they get. But the 'hang 'em high' Judge Roy Bean mentality of the rjds in this world scare the crap outta me as much as the drug dealers, frankly.

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@youdontknow,

because the UK system already proved his innocence.

I thought innocence was assumed until guilt was proven... I don't think it's possible for a British court to prove someone's innocence, only their guilt.

Anyway, Baker is still in prison. What is the difference if he serves his time in Britain or Japan? More countries need agreements for exchanging prisoners. Imagine 6 years of solitary confinement, no chance to communicate with family or friends... seems a little cruel and unusual to me. Has such a harsh punishment stopped the flow of drugs into Japan? Certainly not!

Of course guilty parties should be held accountable for their crimes but making examples of people, which is what I believe happened in this case, shouldn't take precedence over fair and equally applied justice.

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When Nick finally gets out of prison, I'll bet he is never going to carry another person's bag through an airport again. This is a travesty of "justice."

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Those prison conditions seem a bit harsh.

I'm not passing judgment because I don't know much about his story, but even if he is completely guilty, I don't think prisoners should be treated like that for such a crime.

Yes, some will say that prison is supposed to be hard and that this may serve as a deterrent, and I agree that criminals shouldn't be allowed to kick back and watch telly all day. However, my argument is a comparative one. Most developed countries provide hard, but humane, conditions for even murderers and rapists. Considering this, his treatment seems harsh to me.

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I agree, the story sound fishy.

And police DO NOT worry how the drugs got in the bag but go after the owner of the bag.

Even if Nick was a Victim he WAS in the posession of the drugs and no-one else. Posession is a criminal offense last time I checked.

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Okay Nicky-boy claims he befriends this other guy, asks him to watch his stuff while he buys something at a kiosk or goes to the toilet – at that point the Mr. Waffle puts a large amount of dope in Nicky bag. Have you ever seen anyone whose travel bag is not so full already that getting anything else into it (let alone a substantial amount of dope) would require a Herculean effort – think about that.

The question is, how did Mr Waffle plan on getting the dope out of Nicky bag once they made it through immigration inspection? Excuse me Nicky, I accidentally dropped a large quantity of dope in your bag, can I have it now. I prosecutor from a 3rd tier law school could get a conviction on that lame excuse without even cracking a law book.

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The last six years have been hard for both Baker, a former choir boy at Cirencester Parish Church,

What has his being a former choir boy got to do with this? Are choir boys supposed to be angels? I must say, time has really flown. It only seems like yesterday that this all started.

rendoi: FYI, 'mum' is the standard British way of saying the American word 'mom' and 'stone' is an Imperial measurement, a system still used in USA.

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ah never mind, that is British pounds. "mum" and his weight in "stone"... why is a Japan news source publishing a story in antiquated dialect?

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How do you even carry 1.4 million pounds of anything? Or is this the value in British pounds (and if so, why?)

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Sorry, but JT, this story is NOT NEW!

Nick Baker went back to the UK approximately six weeks ago.

Secondly, rjd_jr, you have ALWAYS, in the whole time this case has been reported on JT, had NOTHING good to say about Nick Baker and this case. YOU have judged him only on the stories you've read here on JT or in the Japan Times or Yomiuri Shimbun.

Nick Baker is innocent. As the Belgian authorities proved without any shadow of doubt, when the guy he was traveling with, was released without charge, by the Japanese authorities, who by the way, already KNEW he was a convicted drug smuggler, in Amsterdam with a stash of drugs, on his way home from....TA DA...JAPAN!!! Three weeks or so after his return to the UK, while awaiting trial in the Netherlands, he was found dead on railway tracks in the UK. Some say he killed himself out of guilt for what he did to Nick and his family, others say the mafia killed him for costing them money.

Now Nick is in a prison in the UK, has been there since April, and it is speculated that he will be released earlier than the Japanese authorities would like, because the UK system already proved his innocence.

Don't be so quick to judge, you are NOT a judge (thank God). You talk about reasonable person? Obviously sir, you do not live by your own words. Read the FULL FACTS about this case and not the crap you read in the tabloids. Then, and ONLY then, will you be in a position to judge. Also, I know Nick's mum personally...and not only did she lose her son for seven years due to this stupid system here in Japan, but she also lost her husband who died of a heart attack during all this. Have some compassion.

Nick Baker is back in the UK, has been for weeks. Why then JT, are you only now releasing this story, when it was in the UK media back in April?

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Sorry, but JT, this story is NOT NEW!

Nick Baker went back to the UK approximately six weeks ago.

Secondly, rjd_jr, you have ALWAYS, in the whole time this case has been reported on JT, had NOTHING good to say about Nick Baker and this case. YOU have judged him only on the stories you've read here on JT or in the Japan Times or Yomiuri Shimbun.

Nick Baker is innocent. As the Belgian authorities proved without any shadow of doubt, when the guy he was traveling with, was released without charge, by the Japanese authorities, who by the way, already KNEW he was a convicted drug smuggler, in Amsterdam with a stash of drugs, on his way home from....TA DA...JAPAN!!! Three weeks or so after his return to the UK, while awaiting trial in the Netherlands, he was found dead on railway tracks in the UK. Some say he killed himself out of guilt for what he did to Nick and his family, others say the mafia killed him for costing them money.

Now Nick is in a prison in the UK, has been there since April, and it is speculated that he will be released earlier than the Japanese authorities would like, because the UK system already proved his innocence.

Don't be so quick to judge, you are NOT a judge (thank God). You talk about reasonable person? Obviously sir, you do not live by your own words. Read the FULL FACTS about this case and not the crap you read in the tabloids. Then, and ONLY then, will you be in a position to judge. Also, I know Nick's mum personally...and not only did she lose her son for seven years due to this stupid system here in Japan, but she also lost her husband who died of a heart attack during all this. Have some compassion, get your facts right, and shut your mouth.

Nick Baker is back in the UK, has been for weeks. Why then JT, are you only now releasing this story, when it was in the UK media back in April?

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Tatanka and rjd jr, I totally agree with you.

I mean, isn’t prison supposed to be tortuous. Look, he only lost several toenails to frostbite. What is wrong with this prison that they let him keep any at all? And I bet that he still has both hands and probably both lungs too. And eyes. Couldn’t they have gouged them out?

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No. But if you read about the details of the case, you'll likely see that the circumstances behind his trial and conviction were less than just and that his claim that he was indeed set up had a substantial grain of truth to it. The man he had accused of slipping the drugs into his suitcase was, as the article stated, on trial in Europe for doing the same thing to another young traveler, and had been accused of doing similar on other occasions as well. Prunier, coward that he was, killed himself rather than face the consequences for what he may have done.

On the day that Baker was arrested in Japan, he was traveling with Prunier, who had befriended him earlier in the trip. When the police found the drugs in Baker's luggage that he had stupidly asked Prunier to watch for him while he did I'm not sure what, Prunier did the big fade and claimed to not know who Baker was. Food for thought, considering it was the Japanese justice system that refused to acknowledge this and other facts of the case and convicted Baker in what appeared more a show of making an example out of Baker than the actual proper administration of justice.

Whatever Nick Baker may be, simply foolish being at the top of the list, he likely isn't a drug smuggler. And people shouldn't have to serve life sentences in solitary for just being foolish.

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Exactly Tatanka. Trying to smuggle in a huge gang of drugs, and now people are supposed to feel "sorry" for him because of his foreign status? Obviously mum and company are trying to milk this into a "bad japanese justice system" rant, but really it's his own bloody fault for committing the crime on a large scale. If he didn't smuggle, he'd be safe home with mum now. No sympathy at all from me, nor should he get any sympathy at all from any reasonable person.

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Did I miss something? Are we supposed to feel sorry for this drug smuggler just because he is a foreigner?

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