The family of the 14-year-old Australian boy caught with drugs in Bali has moved to cash in on the legal nightmare before his trial has even ended.
His parents have sold his story to a TV network for at least $200,000 after a bidding war between rival media outlets.
But one victims-of-crime support group yesterday branded the money-making move “an absolute disgrace”.
Nine has signed an exclusive contract understood to be between $200,000 and $300,000 with the boy, who is facing a possible six-year jail term for possessing the drug.
Nine bought the family’s story and will spread the cost between 60 Minutes, Nine News and ACP magazines, probably Woman’s Day.
Rival network Seven bid heavily via current affairs program Sunday Night.
But a deal was finalised on Thursday by Nine’s managing director, Jeffrey Browne, and was signed off on by Nine Entertainment CEO David Gyngell.
The NSW teen, his family and lawyers have gone to great lengths to hide his identity since he was arrested on October 4, shielding his face with everything from a black balaclava and denim jacket to a Hannibal Lecter-like mask.
The teen will be sentenced later this week.
But the lucrative deal will see the boy unmasked to tell his version of being caught with 3.6g of marijuana and the five weeks he spent behind bars.
Indonesian legal experts warn the lucrative deal could go horribly wrong and jeopardise the boy’s sentencing, with one expert labelling it “fragile and dangerous”.
“The media and everyone should wait until the court makes a decision next Friday,” the expert said.
Family groups and victims-of-crime advocates have also criticised the deal.
Australian Family Association state president Terri Kelleher said the boy’s parents should be more concerned with his charges than with a lucrative deal.
“I really think they should be concerned about the fact their 14-year-old was found in possession of marijuana – not exposing it to the media,” she said. “I find it difficult to see where the family is coming from.”
Crime Victims Support Association president Noel McNamara said it was wrong for the family to cash in on an alleged crime.
“It’s an absolute disgrace that they can make money out of it and the sooner the Federal Government do anything about it the better,” he said.
“There is no way in the world that a larrikin like him that has thumbed his nose at the law should get any money out of what he has done.”
The Nine deal was brokered with celebrity agent Grant Vandenberg acting on behalf of the family.
Defence lawyer Muhammad Rifan has predicted the boy will be freed. He said he was confident Justice Amser Simanjuntak felt sympathy for the boy.
He said: “That is what we think, that is what the parents of the boy think and we hope he is home to his friends by next weekend.”
It is believed a 60 Minutes team will fly to Bali on Wednesday to “shoot some colour for the interview, which will happen Friday, all going well”.
The teenager cried in court on Friday as he admitted buying drugs on a street in the seedy Kuta district and said he had long struggled with drug addiction.
“He said he tried to stop using marijuana before he came to Bali, but he had some problems with friend groups and started again,” Mr Rifan said.
“He knows he did the wrong thing and he is very sorry.”
It is understood a small group of the teenager’s friends plan to head to Bali next Friday for the verdict.