Priest holds hope for drug mule Rush

The parish priest of convicted Australian Bali 9 drug smuggler Scott Rush believes there is hope of retribution and rehabilitation for the young Brisbane man who was sentenced to life in prison by a Bali court earlier this week.

The Catholic Leader reports that Rush and eight other Australians, including Michael Czugaj, also from Corinda Graceville Parish, were arrested last year trying to smuggle 8kg of heroin out of Bali. They have been dubbed the Bali Nine since their arrest.

Parish priest of Corinda-Graceville in Brisbane, Fr Tim Harris, said Scott's father Lee told him the 20-year-old had been singing with the prison's ecumenical choir and had attended a number of services while in prison.

He said Lee acknowledged his son's rough past but suggested maybe it was a turning point in his life.

Fr Harris said he talked to Scott's mother Christine on the phone the day after his sentencing.

She told him they were not doing too badly considering the circumstances.

He said their hearts had been broken, but they were determined to do everything they could to make sure Scott knew they would always love him and be there for him.

Fr Harris said Scott's parents were facing the reality that their son might be in jail for a long time.

He said the couple had gone as far as thinking about what would happen to him after they were both dead.

Fr Harris said the couple were prepared to make sure Scott would be looked after wherever he was, in a Bali prison or transferred to an Australian prison, hopefully in Brisbane, in the future.

Both Michael Czugaj and Scott Rush attended Catholic schools - Scott at Christ the King School, Graceville and Michael at St Joseph's Primary School, Corinda.

Fr Harris said he was also keeping in touch with Michael Czugaj's mother Vicky.

He said although the parish community did not condone the use of drugs, people should not turn their backs on the families.

"My heart bleeds for the mums and dads," he said.

Fr Harris said the boys deserved to be punished for their actions because dealing in drugs was not on, as it destroys lives, but as a Christian community people should not close the door on them.

"They have got to do some time for the crime," he said.

"Society says we should put them in prison and throw away the key but Christ says open the door and help them," he said.

Fr Harris said he had received overwhelming support from parishioners for his support of the two families.

Priest holds hope for drug smuggler (Catholic Leader 19/2/07)

Road to Kerobokan (Australian Story 11/2/06)
Rush committed 16 crimes: report (Sydney Morning Herald 14/2/06)

17 Feb 2006