Corby home but still in hiding
UPDATE: SCHAPELLE Corby's family members have gathered for a homecoming party, but the convicted drug smuggler's whereabouts are still unknown.
Corby was on a Malindo flight from Bali, which landed in Brisbane shortly before its expected 5.40am AEST arrival time.
She and sister Mercedes were escorted from the plane and into a waiting convoy comprising nine black vans, who then led a string of media on a wild-goose chase through southeast Queensland.
The convoy, accompanied by a significant security presence, left the airport and headed south along Brisbane's Gateway Motorway.
That's when things took a Hollywood-style turn, with the convoy suddenly splitting into different directions.
One part headed to the up-market Sofitel hotel in Brisbane's CBD, where it's believed Corby was whisked from the basement to a suite.
A second contingent continued south, stopping at a roadside service centre alongside a KFC, while a third carried on down the motorway.
Mercedes headed to her mother's Loganlea home and arrived at 7.30am without her sister.
Family members and friends arrived at the residence throughout the day but Schapelle is yet to emerge.
UPDATE: THERE have been bizarre scenes at the home of Schapelle Corby's mother south of Brisbane, as the family seems to be toying with waiting media.
Corby is yet to be sighted since a convoy of vans left Brisbane Airport about 5.30am but her sister Mercedes arrived at their mother Rosleigh Rose's Loganlea house this morning with security.
Media who followed that van have waited outside the house, with Mercedes coming out at about 9am to film the media.
Men wearing masks also appeared from the house, appearing to taunt the media amid speculation on Schapelle's whereabouts.
It's believed Schapelle may be at luxury hotel The Sofitel in the CBD.
On the Gold Coast, a Schapelle 'look-alike' turned up to sister Mercedes' house at Tugun. It's believed the look-alike was her cousin, who turned up to the house covering her head with a hoodie.
The woman, who gave her name only as 'Aunty Jen', spoke to media at the Tugun home of Mercedes on the southern Gold Coast this morning.
"I know as much as what you guys do," she told journalists.
"I do not know where she is, I just know she's home in Australia. I nearly fell out of bed when I saw the (TV) coverage ... I didn't realise it was going to be as huge as this."
Jen said she did not know if Schapelle would be coming back to live with Mercedes at Tugun.
"(If she does) I'll just give her a peck on the cheek and a massive hug," she said.
Schapelle Corby arrives in Australia after switching flight
SUNDAY AM: SCHAPELLE Corby has arrived back in Australia, but she is yet to be sighted with her security team taking media on a wild-goose chase.
Corby was on a Malindo flight from Bali, which landed in Brisbane shortly before its expected 5.40am AEST arrival time.
Passengers had to wait on board while Corby and her sister Mercedes were escorted from the plane and into a waiting convoy of at least nine black vans.
The convoy then left the airport, and headed south along Brisbane's Gateway Motorway.
To avoid the following media, the vans split off into different directions, with one heading to the Sofitel hotel in Brisbane, while another part of the convoy stopped at a roadside service centre, up alongside a KFC, and a third contingent continued south.
It appears Corby was part of the convoy which arrived at the Sofitel, where she is believed top have remained.
Mercedes headed at her mother's Loganlea home in a vehicle and arrived at 7.30am without her sister.
Corby became emotional and stressed when it came time to disembark the flight, according to the flight crew.
Hostesses Christie and Wahidah said passengers were confused and frustrated when Corby and her entourage were escorted off the plane with a security detail before others.
Christie told The Courier-Mail Corby had been trying to hide her face throughout the flight and even asked for the curtains to be pulled across first class and economy to avoid prying eyes of media and other passengers.
Although she was quiet and "did not talk to anyone" Christie said she was in good spirits for most of the flight seated next to her sister Mercedes.
As part of a "switcheroo" where Corby changed from a Virgin Australia flight to the Malindo Air flight at the last minute, crew said they had no idea she would be on board.
The flight was delayed so Corby had time to board.
"We had no idea, we were aware she was a special passenger but we were thinking who is she?" Wahidah said.
Another air hostess who asked not to be named said Corby was very scared and emotional when it came to disembark.
"She kept to herself a lot," she said.
"She asked me can you close the curtain? I said why? And she said so no one can see. She covered her face and was so scared.
"After 13 years away wow I'm not surprised."
Gabrielle Aimes, from Brisbane, was sitting behind Corby in business class on the flight back to Brisbane and said the convicted drug smuggler seemed "fine" during the trip.
"She kind of kept her head down a bit," she said.
"Everyone had texted me before saying you're on the same flight. She slept, chatting away. I mean she was just sitting right in front of me."
Rowena Arias, from The Gap, was also on board the flight and said she was extremely surprised to see Corby.
"She had her head down and she was pretty covered up," she said. "It looked like she was just ready to go."
Corby's return home comes 12 years after she was sentenced to 20 years in prison, where she served almost 10 years before being on parole for a further three years.
A spokeswoman for Corby's security team, Tora Solutions, fronted the cameras this morning on her behalf to say thank you to her supporters. "It is with ... relief that this morning we mark Schapelle Corby's return to Australia," she said.
"We would like to say thank you to Schapelle's supporters for all the faith, love and support they have shown over the years.
"To all those in Australia and to all those in Bali who were there throughout this difficult journey, your support has not gone unnoticed. To each and everyone of you, you are appreciated."
The spokeswoman said the priority for Corby would now be "healing and on moving forward".
"In the spirit of humility and in the spirit of dignity, we ask all parties to show respect for the family's privacy during this time," she said.
Earlier, Corby had the last laugh, switching her return flight home at the 11th hour.
While her Virgin Air boarding pass had been issued and she had provided it to authorities, at the last minute she told them she was on a Malindo Air flight to Brisbane instead
The Malindo flight left 10 minutes ahead of the Virgin flight and boarded at the next gate. Meanwhile more than 40 members of the Australian media were booked on the Virgin flight, hoping to accompany Corby home.
Corby had been set to fly in seat 1A of business class of Virgin. It is understood she flew in seat 1A on Malindo.
And Corby's last minute flight change caused chaos at the boarding gates because the gates for Virgin and Malindo flights were swapped at the last minute.
Virgin had been due to leave from Gate 6A and Malindo from 6B but they were changed.
It is not known if this was to make it easier for Corby to board her return flight home.
As confused passengers lined up at the wrong gate dozens of airport officials were brought in to sort out the situation.
Schapelle Corby's release from Bali and return to Australia
SATURDAY PM: CONVICTED drug smuggler Schapelle Corby has gone through customs at Denpasar International Airport - the place where she was first arrested almost 13 years ago.
Corby was photographed with her sister Mercedes as onlookers took photos of the pair, who are preparing to board a flight back to Australia tonight.
Her Virgin Air boarding pass had her sitting in seat 1A of business. And for her journey home, she was travelling on a brand new emergency passport, issued on April 28 this year.
In addition to one of her first stamps being a Ngurah Rai exit stamp she will also be blacklisted and banned from returning for at least six months.
Photographed in the parole board without the scarf over her head, her long black hair fell in waves around her shoulders. She wore green pants, wedge sandals, her scarf around her shoulders and clutching her William Tyrrell handbag.
When she and Mercedes put their luggage through the X-ray machine they appeared to also have William Tyrrell stickers on them.
At the airport, Corby's car was driven in through the loading dock area, the second of two options on the plan for today's deportation. This option was used to avoid disruption to the travelling public.
Meanwhile two truckloads of police, on standby at the departures gate, then stood down from duty.
Corby and sister her Mercedes then entered an Immigration office within the airport for her deportation to be processed and her Brisbane-bound flight tickets home to be issued.
Corby was ushered into a room. She appeared calm, with the scarf still over her hair, Mercedes by her side.
Corby was told she is free to go after signing in at the Parole Board one last time, in a high-level police operation.
She had a scarf around her head, wore dark sunglasses and carried a handbag with a picture of missing Australian boy William Tyrrell.
Corby began her long-awaited journey to freedom, leaving her Kuta home amidst dramatic and chaotic scenes, bundled into a car bound for the parole board and the letter that declares her a free woman.
Dozens of police and media and surrounded Corby as she was bundled out the gate of her home in Kuta and shoved into a waiting black car with her sister Mercedes.
She had a scarf around her head, wore dark sunglasses and carried a handbag with a picture of William Tyrrell.
Tyrell disappeared at the age of three from Kendall, on the New South Wales mid-north coast in 2014.
Bemused locals and dozens of Australian tourists barely caught a glimpse of Corby amid the crush of cameras as her car snaked its way out her laneway, surrounded by police running on foot.
As part of the convoy there were two trucks, five police cars plus the vehicle transporting Corby. It was the first time Corby had been seen in public in 10 days.
Schapelle Corby's convoy making its way to the Parole Board now pic.twitter.com/CL2KejhHVG— Cindy Wockner (@CindyWockner) May 27, 2017
Earlier police had locked arms around the car to push back media as she left her home.
Corby's brother Michael, wearing an old man mask, sat on the fence, taking photos of the scene.
Schapelle Corby arrival at Parole Board pic.twitter.com/dBjJOOZDHm— Cindy Wockner (@CindyWockner) May 27, 2017
Corby's conviction and release from jail was chaotic and so was her release yesterday.
Before she left the home, Schapelle's sister Mercedes told News Corporation; "Schapelle is holding up well".
And, finding her voice for the first time, Corby broke her three-year public silence and created a brand new Instagram account.
Her first post was a photograph of her two beloved dogs, Luna and May, with the comment: "Going to miss these two. My puppies #Luna&May".
Within minutes of News Corporation revealing the Instagram account, Corby had thousands of followers.
And whilst Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika and local parliament members instructed officials not to give Corby any special treatment, yesterday's scenes showed it was the opposite.
More than 100 police were involved, four police cars lead and shadowed her convoy from home to the parole office to the airport, dramatic rehearsals were held earlier in the day.
"Today Corby is free," Surung Pasaribu, the Corrections chief at Bali's Law and Human Rights Ministry announced with some enthusiasm shortly before the show started.
Parole officials address the media at the parole board pic.twitter.com/hQsDNVs1tB— Cindy Wockner (@CindyWockner) May 27, 2017
"Since midnight she was free, I think there is no problem."
On the issue of Corby's new Instagram, Mr Pasaribu said it was no problem.
"I don't think it is a problem, but I don't follow Instagram and I don't really understand this Instagram even on my proper mobile phone I don't have it," he said.
He said the overwhelming response by authorities for Corby was at the behest of the Australian Government in Bali.
Governor Pastika also said that her safety must be protected at all times during her departure from Bali tonight.
It comes as more than 50 police, with tactical vans, sirens blaring and whistles blowing, conducted a dramatic rehearsal at Bali's parole board yesterday, which will be Corbys first stop after leaving her Kuta home this evening.
Police also arrived at the laneway near her Kuta home to conduct a check. The actions in tthe lead up to her release gave a very strong impression that this was a special case.
News Corp Australia has obtained a copy of the notes from a special high level meeting held yesterday to discuss plans for Corby's release.
The head of Bali's Law and Human Rights Ministry, Ida Bagus Ketut Adnyana, this week briefed the Governor and members of the legislative assembly.
He told yesterday's meeting that the the Governor and parliament members had urged there be no impression that Corby is getting any special treatment.
"Although the direction from Bali Governor is that the deportation should run normally, but safety must be maintained as she was an ex drug convict that has become a highlight in her country, and it is not impossible she become a target of drug syndicate," Governor Pastika said.
And the plans are that when Corby leaves the parole offices, the convoy of cars taking her to the airport does not drive fast, for reasons of safety and also in order to reduce the time she will need to wait at the airport for her flight home.
An ambulance will shadow the convoy.
HOW TWITTERVERSE SAW CORBY RELEASE
'WE HOPE SHE DOESN'T REPEAT THIS'
Surung Pasaribu, chief of the correctional department of the Law and Human Rights Ministry, said the overwhelming response by authorities for Corby was at the behest of the Australian Government in Bali.
"The consulate general said to us, 'Please save my citizen', so security is Indonesia's responsibility to secure her to the airport so we will protect her for this while she in this country," he said, adding "it was not special, just duty".
"We just hope she doesn't repeat this (drug smuggling) again and God also wants human beings doing mistakes to come back to the right path."
He said he thought Corby was different to other prisoners staying at the 'Bali international prison'.
He said once Corby signs her release she will be handed over to immigration officers who will escort her out of the country.
"I hope that we as Indonesians can always uphold human rights for anyone coming to Indonesia," he said.
Normally the Parole Office has just two staff working on a Saturday but for Corby, chiefs called in 30 personnel from their usual day off.
CORBY'S HEAVY POLICE ESCORT
Corby's final journey to freedom could well be made in an armoured police tactical car, from her Kuta home to the parole board and then the airport, a prisoner one last time.
Around midday today, about 20 police were given a final briefing of procedures for the Corby exit in the parole office courtyard before dramatically, with sirens, horns and whistles blaring, they performed a full dress rehearsal with an armoured convoy of vans and trucks carrying another 30 police troops.
Two armoured tactical cars were in the convoy with one expected to carry Corby.
People outside the parole gates were asking what's happening, with local media and police yelling back "Corby, Corby" to which locals knowingly nodded.
"The marijuana queen finally leave," said one local cafe worker passing by as police blowing whistles forced people to move on.
Present also was Titiek Sudaryatmi, the head of the parole office, and her staff many of whom have been involved specifically in the Corby case for many years.
Denpasar police chief Hadi Purnomo told News Corporation today it was planned to use the same vehicle which has been used previously to transport police murder suspects, Byron Bay woman Sara Connor and her British boyfriend David Taylor.
Known as a tactical vehicle, Mr Purnomo said it was planned to use that vehicle "for security reasons".
"The car is usually used to take prisoners," he said, adding that the Corby family had not sought this.
"No, not the family, we will use it for security reasons," Mr Purnomo said.
However police officers who visited Corby's home this morning, to conduct a security check of the area, said a police tactical vehicle was being prepared, as was a parole board car and no decision had yet been made on which particular vehicle would be used this afternoon.
It would depend on the security situation later today which of the vehicles was deployed, Ketut Widiada, from Bali police headquarters said outside Corbys home.
Mr Widiada said four police cars would escort Corby from her home to the parole board and then to the airport.
Asked why so many police were on duty for the operation, Mr Widiada said: "As Bali police we do it for the safety of our citizens and also for foreigners. This is our duty for the community, we serve the community.
"This is only for anticipation, so that Corby is safe," he said.
Mr Widiada said it would depend later which car was used to transport Corby.
Police conducted a dry run at the parole offices of what the Corby arrival could look like to ensure she could make a quick entry and exit of the building.
At least 50 police are to be stationed at this location with others controlling the busy thoroughfare out front, at times chocked with Saturday shoppers, media vans and local onlookers, many eager to see the large police presence and marvelling at a low flying drone recording the scene.
Police spent some time walking about the building and streets looking at security measures.