An overheard conversation could be the key to solving how the father of a Singapore socialite ended up on death row, accused of smuggling cocaine.
Phillip George Sceats, the businessman father of famed jewelry designer Amber Sceats, spent 353 days on death row in Singapore’s Changi Prison.
All charges were sensationally dropped before Mr. Sceats went to trial – but not before he saw 14 of his cellmates run to their execution.
Mr Sceats returned to Australia after 12 months behind bars as a shell of his former self.
‘I am a broken man. I would do anything to know what really happened, ”he said.
Mr. Sceats and his family are determined to find out who accused him of the smuggling operation and why, and almost a year after their return home in February 2019, they can finally get answers.
New South Wales Police are on hand to question Mr Sceats about his time in custody and his theories about how he ended up in prison, The courier post reported.
An overheard conversation in particular could be the key to unraveling the mystery.
Notoriously private, Ms. Sceats’s last media interview with Elle in 2015 revealed that she idolized her ‘fighter’ mother, ‘who inspires me to go through life’s toughest moments and stay strong in every aspect imaginable’
Mr Sceats (pictured) denied having any knowledge of the drugs and hired a well-known Singaporean lawyer to fight the charges
A 12-page file of evidence compiled by Mr Sceats’ legal team – including several former senior police officers from three states – was initially handed over to the Australian Federal Police.
But they say they were never contacted about the information on the file.
The file included a witness statement mentioning a conversation prior to Mr. Sceats’s arrest, which was of particular interest to the police.
Former Queensland Assistant Police Commissioner Graham Rynders, who was part of the powerful legal team, said it was clear to him very early on that Mr Sceats was the victim of an ‘elaborate scheme’.
“We felt that more than likely one or more people had set him up and this was strongly supported by the evidence we had obtained,” said Mr Rynders.
“The fallout from those actions led to him being incarcerated on death row in Changi Prison and ultimately claimed his life.”
What should have been a romantic getaway to celebrate his 64th birthday in March 2018 turned into a nightmare when he was stopped at the airport and asked to point out his luggage.
Baggage handlers found two satchels of cocaine, weighing nearly 90 grams in total, stuck to a side pocket – so poorly hidden it was almost as if someone were ‘finding’ the drugs.
Mrs. Sceats (pictured), who considers PR maven Roxy Jacenko one of her close friends, maintained her luxury jewelry business amid all the devastation
Phillip George Sceats (pictured), the father of famed jewelry designer and socialite Amber Sceats, spent 353 days on death row at Changi Prison in Singapore
He was taken to prison and told he would face the death penalty if convicted.
Mr. Sceats denied having any knowledge of the drugs and hired a well-known Singaporean lawyer to deal with the charges.
The lawyer argued that Mr Sceats had no reason to smuggle drugs from Australia to Singapore due to the lack of demand.
He would be the first Australian ever to be charged with the crime, and the street value of the cocaine was cut in half compared to the price he would have paid for it in Australia.
He also passed a lie detector test on the drugs, bank records showed he had made no unusual withdrawals, and a drug test found no cocaine in his system.
Methadone was found in his system, but he had a long-term prescription for the opioid in Australia, The Daily Telegraph reported.
While he languished in a Singaporean prison, his family hired a powerful team of detectives at home to prove his innocence while preserving his business interests.
Baggage handlers found two cocaine satchels stuck to a side pocket – almost as if someone ‘had to’ find the drugs
Ms. Sceats, who regards PR maven Roxy Jacenko as one of her close friends, maintained her luxury jewelry business amid all the devastation.
While her adoptive father was behind bars, Ms. Sceats’ empire blossomed and Australian celebrities – from Jacenko to actress Samara Weaving and Isabelle Cornish – were spotted with her designs.
Notoriously private, her last media interview with Elle in 2015 revealed that she idolized her ‘fighter’ mother, ‘who inspires me to go through life’s toughest moments and stay strong in every aspect imaginable’.
The family knew they had to stay strong for Mr. Sceats and wrote to him often, encouraging him to keep his spirits high while he was behind bars.
He had only 20 minutes of freedom a day, which he used to read or practice yoga, and otherwise was in his cell with three other inmates facing death row.
“I was starting to lose hope,” said Mr. Sceats. ‘I saw people disappear. It was pretty tough. It was a very strict regime there. If you do something wrong, they’ll give you the stick on the bare bottom.
“Guards come by your cell every hour. They don’t turn out the lights when you get the death penalty. ‘
Pictured: The suitcase Mr. Sceats pointed to the baggage handlers who were his
Sceats refused to even consider entering a plea deal, despite knowing he would face the death penalty on conviction.
His Australian squad of detectives and detectives tried to enlist the help of the Australian Federal Police and New South Wales Police, but claimed they were ignored every time.
The main question his legal team wanted to answer was who gave the first tip to the Singaporean authorities.
But the AFP said they were not aware of the arrest until after it took place, and refused to cooperate further.
Mr Sceats is adamant that he saw people at Singapore airport wearing AFP hats and clothes on the day of his arrest and feels that more should have been done to investigate who set him up.
On February 18, 2019, his Australian team submitted a file to the AFP summarizing the events and possible persons of interest and possible crimes committed in connection with the intent.
While her adoptive father was behind bars, Ms. Sceats’ empire blossomed and Australian celebrities – from Jacenko to actress Samara Weaving and Isabelle Cornish – were spotted with her designs
The file was also sent to his Singaporean attorney, who forwarded it to the Attorney General of Singapore, Lucien Wong SC.
On February 23, 2019, Mr. Sceats’ legal team was informed that he would be released.
He was taken from his cell at 4:30 am and spent nearly 12 hours asking questions about what was going on, but found out he had been released.
Mr. Sceats was so shocked to learn that the charge had been dropped that his legs gave out.
But a year later, he’s still no closer to learning who falsely accused him of smuggling drugs into the notoriously strict country.