"Never can a family have been more routinely or cruelly vilified by the media of a nation. Yet the truth bears no resemblance to the myth deliberately manufactured to distance them from the Australian public, a myth intended to create barriers strong enough to prevent empathy and sympathy developing"
In 2004 Michael Corby was dying of cancer. Schapelle, his loving daughter, was nursing him. Her fateful trip to Bali, for a holiday with her sister, was intended to recharge her batteries to strengthen Schapelle for this courageous and selfless role.
"She was his baby girl, the youngest of his children, and they shared a very special bond. She was the one living with him, and caring for him, as he slowly died of cancer." - Simba
But the last months of his life were to be haunted, not only by the terrible tragedy and injustice unfolding for his daughter Schapelle, but by a hostile media campaign unprecedented in recent Australian history.
Suffering from a terminal illness, Mr Corby presented the risk of increasing the public sympathy for his daughter. But equally, in his debilitated state, he was a soft target for smears and innuendo. The Australian media ruthlessly pursued this, and added this further difficulty to his personal struggle. They ensured that he suffered untold additional torment during his last few months.
Once deceased, the most toxic elements of the media enhanced their campaign further. In Australia "dead men can't sue". This was exploited to the full.
There was never any substance to any of their allegations. There was no association with drugs at all. Indeed, the local police were disgusted enough to take the rare step of commenting directly: "An investigation into statements made against Michael Corby found those statements to be unjustified. Queensland Police has no evidence to link Michael Corby with involvement in the drug trade".
On another occasion, they also issued a certificate to help dispel the smears:
This could hardly have been more clear, but incredibly, the lies continued unabated.
This campaign had a predictable effect, causing huge distress for a family already suffering extreme turmoil. Mercedes Corby, Schapelle's sister, desperately sought to defend her father where she was able, "They have put these lies on with no proof whatsoever because they know my father can't defend himself", "My father has passed away, he is dead. He worked hard all his life for what he got".
But the relentless campaign to influence public perception went on, with the ABC, for example, being forced to apologize for their fabrications.
A family friend commented, "They simply created smoke where there was no fire, to change the public's opinion of Schapelle's innocence. Her dad was used because he was dead, and they were free to print anything without fear of litigation. It is the most sickening thing I have ever seen. I am ashamed to be an Australian." Another: "It has been unbelievable that they have just been allowed to invent lies from thin air and publish with no evidence, or have paid people large sums to blatantly lie. There is no press control when you are dead".
Mr Corby asked for Schapelle to the very end, and died on 17th January 2008. Schapelle Corby was the only family member unable to attend his funeral. His death marked the start of a more rapid decline in her mental health. Michael Corby - RIP.
Schapelle's Mum, Rosleigh, has tried throughout to stay strong for Schapelle. She has continued to work hard to fund her trips to Bali to visit Schapelle, usually working 6 days per week, and has steadfastly refused to accept that Schapelle will not be returning home soon.
Rosleigh has also had more than her fair share of media vilification. Disgracefully, she has been a regular target for what is presented as 'humour', which has invariably been the cruelest of pre-meditated attempts to ridicule a distressed mother.
She has sought throughout to keep Schapelle going, which has sometimes been extremely traumatic. A recent occasion followed serious abuse of mentally ill Schapelle by Australia's Channel Nine, who invaded her cell with cameras and chased her into a toilet area, where she hid, traumatized. The following day, Rosleigh's visit to the prison consisted of her seriously distressed daughter sobbing uncontrollably, and asking her mum about ending it all. Rosleigh comforted Schapelle and kept herself together... until she left the prison. Simba: "Ros has spent many an afternoon on Kuta beach, following her visits with Schapelle, crying inconsolably"
Media intrusion is another aspect of her life too, with frequent harassment from media crews, even at her own home.
See also: An Interview With Schapelle Corby's Mother
Mercedes Corby accepted the mantle of both seeking to sustain her sister in Bali, and campaigning for her freedom. An intelligent, articulate and capable woman, she rapidly became a prime target for media vilification and abuse.
Over the years, there must have been many times when Mercedes felt totally isolated and desperate, as she struggled valiantly for her sister's life. The courage she has demonstrated in sustaining her efforts is very well illustrated by the following article, which was provided by the People For Schapelle Corby group.
Schapelle Corby's family are a hard working, proud, decent people. They have strong ethical and moral values, which are increasingly rare, and have proved themselves to be trusting, loyal, and incredibly courageous. Like Schapelle Corby herself, they are innocent victims of this shocking political horror story.