Schapelle Corby's Family

Schapelle Corby's mother, father and sister have also suffered untold anguish, sadness and frustration during her ordeal. An overview of their suffering, written for The Expendable Project by a long term observer, is provided below.


"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.


In scurrying to cover the government's sale of Schapelle Corby's legal and human rights, the Australian media vilified her family with smear after smear, and the most blatant of fabrications. They worked tirelessly to create a barrier between the public, and the innocent woman left stranded in a hell hole. One tried and tested tactic was to character assassinate her loved ones. None more so than her beloved sister, Mercedes.

What the media created in the public psyche was a soap character, moulded to suit their hostile agenda. The truth about Mercedes, however, is the exact opposite of this shameful creation.

The extracts below are from a single article from a few years ago.



Wild accusations, controversial TV reports and harassment by complete strangers, are just a few of the daily horrors Mercedes Corby faces. Here, the 32-year-old talks about a happy childhood, the day of her sister's arrest and the hell that followed.

Before Schapelle was arrested in Bali two-and- a-half years ago, I enjoyed a happy life. I’d never had to endure any major crisis; I didn’t really know what stress was, before that horrible day. Then, my carefree life vanished into yesterday. Never could I have imagined the pain and turmoil that would come to fill the daily lives of my whole family.

I’m the eldest of six children – three boys and three girls – and I loved growing up in a big family. Until I was 10, I had just two siblings – Schapelle and Michael. We had a tight bond, with only a year between each of us. Schapelle and I were best friends, sharing a bedroom, friends and clothes.

We did everything together. We could spend hours sitting in the grass making daisy chains or putting together dance routines. Schapelle’s always been a bit shy and I’ve often felt very protective of her – although she can definitely stand up for herself when she needs to.

Our parents split up when I was five, but it didn’t affect us much, as we still saw heaps of Dad. Mum and Dad stayed close friends and although we lived with Mum, we spent most of our school holidays up on Dad’s land at the beach. Despite the age gap, we were also very close to our three younger siblings.

Our home was full of people, fun and laughter. We were an outdoors family with Mum forever telling us, “Get outside, you kids.”

I spent most of my childhood playing sports, riding bikes, at the beach, and Mum took us on regular weekend camping trips down the coast. As teenagers, Schapelle, Michael and I got hooked on surfing. We joined a local Gold Coast Surf Club and spent our weekends patrolling the beaches and hitting the surf.

My close school friends were also in the club. We had a lot of great times. To me, there’s nothing better than the sun, surf, being fit and being able to share it with family and friends. I became the surf club’s first-aid officer in my late teens. We competed against other clubs, with my team often making the state finals.

Mum worked hard to give us everything she’d missed out on in her own childhood. She’d done it tough, spending her early years in and out of orphanages. She’s never complained or felt sorry for herself, but it made her determined to give us a good life.

She’s the most protective, loving, generous mum we could ask for. She worked two or three factory jobs to pay for nice clothes, holidays and after-school classes. She sent Schapelle, Michael and I to Toe Kwon Do classes. Schapelle and I also did ballet lessons for about 10 years. Although I was a bit of a tomboy, I loved dancing, concerts and costumes. I saved most of my costumes to pass onto my daughter, Nyeleigh, who now does ballet in Bali.

In 2004, we decided to take a five-month holiday to Bali, before Wayan started school on the Gold Coast. We had our little girl, Nyeleigh, by then, and felt it would be our last chance to give the two children a real taste of their dad’s culture and spend time with his family. We planned to be home by Christmas. But it didn’t work out. We didn’t get home. Instead, our lives turned to hell.

Nothing could have prepared us for the shock and trauma. It was incomprehensible. We’d been in Bali for about eight weeks when Schapelle was arrested on October 8, 2004, at Bali International Airport with 4.2kg of marijuana in her boogie-board bag.

She’d come to Bali for a two-week surfing holiday and to help me celebrate my 30th birthday – a milestone I was dreading.

Then, suddenly, my little sister was facing the death penalty. We’d crashed into a whole new life. It was surreal. I felt a darkness fill my heart. It’s never shifted; it won’t until my sister is free.

I lost 10kg through stress-induced vomiting and diarrhoea in those first few weeks. Pain and distress hit the moment I woke up and, most of the day, I felt as if battery acid was burning holes in my stomach.

Seeing Schapelle each day in a small concrete cell was shattering. We had to talk through the bars.

She would always try to be brave, but could rarely stop the tears pouring down her cheeks.

We were both so scared. We’d clasp each other's hands for comfort. Saying goodbye each day was soul destroying. It was the hardest and loneliest feeling in the world to walk away. I usually didn’t make it far before I threw up.

Often I’d hear Schapelle’s faint voice calling after me in the distance: “Bye Merc. I love you Merc.”

I’d turn around to wave to her, and see her clinging to the bars like a terrified child, watching me walk away.

I knew she usually collapsed into a sobbing mess after I left. I’d call back, “See you tomorrow, Schapelle,” trying to keep my voice steady, “You’ll be OK.”

But we both knew that nothing was OK. She was my precious little sister, who I’d always loved and protected, and there seemed absolutely nothing I could do to protect her now.

Two-and-a-half years later, we’ve adjusted as best we can. Time has helped us to live with this situation. We will never accept it – we’ll keep fighting. But we’ve started to build a new life in Bali. I owed it to myself, my kids, my husband and Schapelle, to put some normality back into our daily lives.

I was a social recluse for the first 18 months. I couldn’t go out and enjoy myself, even with close friends. I’d get too upset thinking about my sister locked in a cage – as she calls it. My whole life was focused on our fight to prove her innocence.

I’d spend hours online and on the phone, desperately searching for help and answers.

I still do, but I also have to make the best of this precious life. Schapelle wants me to do that.

She’s losing her life day by day. She doesn’t want that for me, too. She’s so pleased when I seem happier. That’s Schapelle; always concerned about others.

The kids and Schapelle love to see each other. They still don’t quite understand why she can’t leave with us. They used to ask about it all the time, “Why can’t Auntie Pelle come with us, Mum?” They’d feel the sadness, too. They don’t say it as often now, although just a couple of weeks ago, Wayan asked, “When’s Auntie Pelle going home to Australia, Mum?” “Not sure, honey.” He left it at that.

It’s my beautiful children who’ve helped keep me sane through this ordeal. Although we wanted our children to be educated in Australia, we’ve had to accept a different path for them. What has happened to Schapelle has changed the course of their lives. We will stay here as long as Schapelle is in jail.

The attention has created a lot of extra strain. We’d never had anything to do with the media before and thought we were doing the right thing by speaking to journalists, trying to get the message out that Schapelle was innocent.

Our lawyers at the time also told us to speak out so that it would push the Australian Government to help. It didn’t.

Many appalling and untrue things have also been written and said about my family and me. It deeply upsets me, although I try to be strong, and do my best not to let these cruel and nasty stories get me down.

I’ve been broken a few times, where my strength vanishes and I collapse into a lifeless heap on the floor.

But I can’t stay down for long. I know I have to pull myself together, not only for me, but for my family and friends.

One thing that angers me is when reporters who’ve never met me, or my family, call us uneducated or unskilled, even ‘trash’. They know nothing about us. For the record, my father is a well-educated and smart man; he’s an electrical engineer and has had good jobs all his life. There are Corby's who have university degrees. My mother has worked very hard all her life to support her family. These people don’t know us. They don’t know that I finished school, went to college, speak four languages fluently and am learning a fifth.

I now have three beautiful children and I take my role as a mother very seriously.

I’m trying to live as normal a life as possible, but I’ve forgotten what it feels like to live without stress and strain, and to feel good. My heart aches with sadness. My little sister is losing her life.

We never know what hell is around the next turn. People often used to comment that I looked very young for my age. Now I know I look a lot older than I am.

I live with an aching heaviness, a deep sadness and a tightness in my stomach, like an elastic band has been twisted tightly around it. Will my beautiful sister ever get to have a family or enjoy her life?

I love my sister and I miss her. I miss shopping with her, going out to dinner. She’s my best friend and she’s locked away from us all.

I know she is innocent and I will keep fighting for her freedom and for answers. I will never stop. I will never give up.

Mercedes is a victim too: a courageous intelligent woman whose love for her sister shines through like a beacon, as she fights for Schapelle's life day after day, week after week, year after year. A wonderful sister and an incredibly warm person.

You are not alone Mercedes: please know that every member of this Facebook group is by your side, and will fight with you for Schapelle until justice prevails and she is free.

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.

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