Daughter's heartbreak after seeing mum in Tokyo court

The daughter of an Australian woman detained in Japan on drug trafficking allegations has opened up about seeing her mother for the first time in more than a year.

West Australian grandmother Donna Nelson was arrested in January 2023, days after arriving in Tokyo.

The 58-year-old was reportedly found to be carrying almost two kilograms of meth in a hidden cavity in her suitcase.

Ms Nelson's family has claimed she was the victim of a Nigerian scammer she met through an online dating site who bought tickets for her to fly to Japan.

They believe she may have been forced or tricked into picking up the bag after meeting with an associate of the scammer during a stopover in Laos.

Strict communication rules prevented Kristal Hilaire from speaking to her mother after she flew to Tokyo to attend a pre-trial hearing this week.

An emotional Ms Hilaire told Nine News her mother's appearance had changed and she hoped her next court date wouldn't be too far away.

"She looks very different, she's so much smaller. You can tell that she doesn't get out in the sun," Ms Hilaire said.

"She did look pale and she has more grey hair. She still looked beautiful."

Ms Nelson, an Indigenous community leader and former WA Greens candidate who previously served as chair of Perth-based Aboriginal health service Derbarl Yerrigan, is reported to be locked in her cell for 23 hours a day.

"It just felt so wrong to leave the (court) room and not be able to give her a hug or not be able to say anything to her," Ms Hilaire said.

"We just locked eyes and continued to lock eyes until I left the room."

A date for Ms Nelson's trial is yet to be set.

Japan's criminal justice system is notoriously strict with Human Rights Watch in 2023 highlighting a 99.8 per cent conviction rate in cases that go to trial.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store