14 Jun 2015

Eleanor Hawkins: ‘I am truly sorry’ for mountain strip

British backpacker Eleanor Hawkins has apologised for stripping on a Malaysian mountain top and for causing any offence to local people who considered the mountain sacred.

Miss Hawkins, 23, returned to the UK this morning and appeared emotional as she read a statement outside her family home in Draycott, Derbyshire.

She said: “I just want to say how relieved and happy I am to finally be home.

“I know my behaviour was foolish and I know how much offence we all caused to the local people of Sabah. For that, I am truly sorry.”

Miss Hawkins was fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit (£859) and sentenced to three days in jail – which she had already served – at a court hearing in Kota Kinabalu on Friday.

She was arrested with three other backpackers earlier this week for posing semi-naked on Mount Kinabalu, after being blamed by locals for causing an earthquake which killed 18 people on 5 June.

Her mother Ruth said: “She knows what she did was wrong and disrespectful and she is deeply sorry for any offence caused to the people of Sabah and she has been appropriately and fairly judged by the Malaysian authorities and has served her sentence in full, the case is now closed.

“We would all now like Eleanor to be given the chance to recover, so we would really appreciate it if you would now afford us some privacy and allow her to get on with her life.

Other backpackers still sought

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

Sabah state deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan later blamed the quake on the travellers showing “disrespect to the sacred mountain”.