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"Relieved" tourists who stripped naked on mountain allowed to go home

Hawkins pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence and was fined 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (£859)
Hawkins pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence and was fined 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (£859)

A British woman who was convicted for stripping on a sacred Malaysian mountain will fly home tomorrow, her lawyer said.

Backpacker Eleanor Hawkins, 23, pleaded guilty to a public nuisance offence and was fined 5,000 Malaysian Ringgit (£859) and sentenced to three days in jail, which she has already served.

Lawyer Ronny Cham said Miss Hawkins will be freed from police custody tonight and her release documentation is currently being arranged.

The earliest flight back to the UK is 6am tomorrow, the lawyer added.

She and three other backpackers were arrested after being blamed by locals for causing an earthquake which killed 18 people after they posed naked on the mountainside.

Miss Hawkins and the other three tourists left Kota Kinabalu Magistrates' Court in Malaysia through a crowd of photographers, her head bowed as she walked to a waiting car.

The aeronautical engineering graduate, from Derby, was arrested at Tawau airport on Tuesday as she was flying from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

She appeared in court alongside three other defendants - Canadian siblings Lindsey and Danielle Petersen, and a Dutch man.

They faced a maximum of three months in jail for their offence.

Several other backpackers who appeared in the photos remain wanted by police, according to reports.

A magnitude-5.9 earthquake struck the 13,400ft (4,084m) Mount Kinabalu last Friday, killing 18 people and leaving hundreds more stranded.

Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan blamed the earthquake six days later on the travellers showing "disrespect to the sacred mountain".

A recent graduate with a masters degree from Southampton University, Miss Hawkins was in the middle of a gap year travelling around south east Asia, which began in January.

She went to Malaysia at the start of May and later that month travelled to Borneo.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We remain in contact with Ms Hawkins and her family following this morning's court appearance, and will continue to provide consular assistance."